Human Bodies Waste Away But Cities Abide (psshaw)

One of yesterday’s sermons has me thinking: when will the neo-Calvinists ever do justice to the physical-spiritual dualism that legitimately arises in Paul’s teaching?

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:1-10 ESV)

You can’t simply point at “all things” passages and make Paul’s understanding of life in this world go away:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20 ESV)

You can affirm both. Christ is preeminent and we are not at home until we are with Christ. But to use the Lordship of Christ as the basis for transforming cities or redeeming movies and rejecting the dualism between fallen bodies and redeemed souls as fundamentalist is not Pauline. Heck, it’s not even Calvinist:

The wicked, too, groan, because they are not contented with their present condition; but afterwards an opposite disposition prevails, that is, a clinging to life, so that they view death with horror, and do not feel the long continuance of this mortal life to be a burden. The groaning of believers, on the other hand, arises from this — that they know, that they are here in a state of exile from their native land, and that they know, that they are here shut up in the body as in a prison. Hence they feel this life to be a burden, because in it they cannot enjoy true and perfect blessedness, because they cannot escape from the bondage of sin otherwise than by death, and hence they aspire to be elsewhere.

As, however, it is natural for all animals to desire existence, how can it be, that believers are willing to cease to exist? The Apostle solves this question, when he says, that believers do not desire death for the sake of losing any thing, but as having regard to a better life. At the same time, the words express more than this. For he admits, that we have naturally an aversion to the quitting of this life, considered in itself, as no one willingly allows himself to be striped of his garments. Afterwards, however, he adds, that the natural horror of death is overcome by confidence; 515 as an individual will, without any reluctance, throw away a coarse, dirty, threadbare, and, in one word, tattered garment, with the view of his being arrayed in an elegant, handsome, new, and durable one.

Farther, he explains the metaphor by saying — that what is mortal may be destroyed 516 by life. For as flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, (1 Corinthians 15:50,) it is necessary, that what is corruptible in our nature should perish, in order that we may be thoroughly renewed, and restored to a state of perfection. On this account, our body is called a prison, in which we are confined.

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428 thoughts on “Human Bodies Waste Away But Cities Abide (psshaw)

  1. as you, yourself (your own Meeeeee that is) quote:
    So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. :)

    Psalm 90
    12 So teach us to number our days,
    That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
    13 Do return, O LORD; how long will it be?
    And be sorry for Your servants.
    14 O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness,
    That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
    15 Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us,
    And the years we have seen evil.
    16 Let Your work appear to Your servants
    And Your majesty to their children.
    17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;
    And confirm for us the work of our hands;
    Yes, confirm the work of our hands. Psalm 90

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  2. It would help if what statements made by NeoCalvinists were being referred to here. Not that I am defending them, I disagree with significant part of their approach. It calls on Christians to in varying degrees ‘lord it over’ nonChristians in society. 2KT partially makes up for some of those errors. But again, what the NeoCalvinists do that 2Kers don’t is to point out corporate sin that can be addressed in the name of seeking a partial measure of justice for the marginalized as the OT prophets did for the marginalized in their day. So while NeoCalvinists merit some criticism, they also merit some appreciation.

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  3. “You can affirm both. Christ is preeminent and we are not at home until we are with Christ. But to use the Lordship of Christ as the basis for transforming cities or redeeming movies and rejecting the dualism between fallen bodies and redeemed souls as fundamentalist is not Pauline. Heck, it’s not even Calvinist:”

    For the record, and despite what meatheaded Andrew (I’ll be charitable and go with meatheaded for now instead of deliberately disingenuous liar) tries to say, the above is no part of my theology and never has been.

    I will also say however, that it is pretty tough to make the case that Calvin and the assembly did not envision a thoroughly and directly church informed state. (at least if at all possible)

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  4. rejecting the dualism between fallen bodies and redeemed souls as fundamentalist is not Pauline.

    But rejecting the dualism as gnostic is Pauline.

    And Calvinistic to boot. From the quote you supplied:

    “…that what is corruptible in our nature should perish, in order that we may be thoroughly renewed, and restored to a state of perfection. ”

    Calvin, the Transformationalist. Now we know where Kuyper, Bavinck, and Machen got it from.

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  5. Curt, what you say about racism surely must apply to corporate sin:

    I stated that none of us can determine whether we are racists or not because the stigma of the label causes a conflict of interest.

    Let us know when you find that conflict free zone.

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  6. Calvin via MvdM: “…that what is corruptible in our nature should perish, in order that we may be thoroughly renewed, and restored to a state of perfection. ”

    Mark, do you understand this “thoroughly renewed” and “restored to a state of perfection” process as occurring before or after death, that is, in this age or in the age to come?

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  7. Jeff, the answer should be obvious ( see Calvin and our Confessions): the progressive transformation/renewal we experience in this life is incomplete and imperfect. It is brought to thorough completion and perfection in the life to come. We don’t go from zero transformation in this life to 100% in the life to come.

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  8. transformation in — wait for it — death.

    Time to bring out your goth t-shirts.

    You dropped Calvin’s adjective “thorough” before the word “transformation”. You don’t really believe there is zero transformation in this life, right?

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  9. Mark Van Der Molen says: Jeff, the answer should be obvious ( see Calvin and our Confessions): the progressive transformation/renewal we experience in this life is incomplete and imperfect. It is brought to thorough completion and perfection in the life to come. We don’t go from zero transformation in this life to 100% in the life to come.

    and, of course, see: the bible

    Paul:
    I die daily. 1 Cor 15:31

    I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me Gal 2:20
    you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Col 3:23
    It is a trustworthy statement: if we died with Him, we will also live with Him 2 Tim 2:11

    But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Cor 3:18
    do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Rom 12:2

    Philippians 3 NASB The Goal of Life

    …dying

    7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their [l]appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

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  10. and brothers…

    But may it never be that we would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to us, and us to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

    And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. Gal 6:14-16

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  11. D.G.,
    Note how you didn’t respond to what I wrote. And I have already addressed how we can respond to corporate sin in the past. Just as in the other thread, you are simply asking questions and bringing up points I have already addressed.

    BTW, you might also note that the same stigma that is attached to racism is not necessarily attached to all corporate sins.

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  12. vdm, m, rake warning: you don’t trust my answers. Either 9th commandment up or enter the fray like a sinning saint. But don’t go all Old Life and then act like you’re an obedience boy.

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  13. Curt, I did respond to what you wrote. It may be indirect, but I hit the reply icon.

    And btw, what you say about racism undercuts whatever you say about corporate sin.

    And I provide all of this help for free. Supportoldlife.com

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  14. Amid that gibberish you still won’t say if you believe regeneration transforms a man at all. A simple yes or no will do. I’ll even trust your answer.

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  15. “…I’ll even trust your answer.”
    Now that’s grace Darryl. Ya can’t ask for much more than that.

    Lemme help ya out Mark. Whenever you hear Darryl say “obedience boys” , that means anybody who dares uphold his own HISTORY

    Hang around a little while and you’ll begin to understand the dualistic antinomianism that prevails among many of the regulars here. That’s not the “oldlife” at all. Dr. Hart and I got off on the wrong foot a few years ago. That’s my fault. I can’t get him to understand now that my inescapable declarations of how wrong he is are not motivated by a desire to see him hang.

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  16. Hey, Greg, fark you and your dualistic antinomianism charge. You need to prove a charge like that and you haven’t got a prayer of doing so. But you keep worrying about impressing dutchie.

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  17. Greg, Mark’s been an antagonist for quite some time. Maybe if he hangs around long enough he’ll see the legalistic, moralistic and pious sentimentalism among so many of OL’s critics.

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  18. Zrim says: “Greg, Mark’s been an antagonist for quite some time.”
    My mistake. I don’t remember seeing him before.

    Sean says: “Greg, you’re a punk and a coward. Come file charges. You’ve got my email, I’ll tell you who to talk to at presbytery.”
    The presbytery? This can’t be a serious statement 😀

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  19. Sean, Zrim and I are going to Video Chat one day soon. Isn’t that right Steve? You are welcome to join us. Anybody else as well.

    You can rail on me all you want. Now there’s an offer you just can’t refuse and I’m being quite serious.

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  20. it only seems like gibberish after all those bangs to the head
    Probably won’t help to remind you of your meds to treat psychological projection, so I’ll play along.
    Why not help a poor fellow out with a real simple answer:
    You believe regeneration transforms a man at all? Yes____ No______(check one).

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  21. D.G. Hart says And I provide all of this help for free. Supportoldlife.com

    hey, maybe DG is more like Paul than one thought

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  22. Was asking about in any regenerate man’s case (and that can include yourself). Yes_____ No_______(check one).

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  23. I’m one man. While you (seemingly) concede me being regenerate, you opine I’m not transformed by that regeneration. Of course, you well know that doesn’t answer the question whether you think ANY Christian man is transformed by regeneration.

    Last time for a simple answer: Yes_______ No______Continue dodging __________(check one).

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  24. D.G.,
    You really didn’t respond to my first comment. I was commenting on the tradeoffs while you tried, as always, to define corporate sin out of existence.

    In addition, stating the obvious that not all corporate sin carries a stigma, let alone the degree of a stigma, does not undercut the idea of corporate sin. It merely states what is acceptable to the public and what isn’t. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life provides a primary example. For while he was denouncing racism, his popularity increased. But once he started to publicly speak out against the economic exploitation in Capitalism and against the Vietnam War, his popularity suffered. And yet, those three practices he opposed were corporate sins.

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  25. sdb, isn’t transformation the language of the world (from erudite philosophy to pop psycho-spiritual-moral-self-help-and-improvement), sanctification the Bible? If the Bible is any guide, it wouldn’t seem that the Spirit so much transforms (wham-o!) as sanctifies (ho-hum).

    Who knows what Mark is getting at, but it’s curious why he keeps using worldly language.

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  26. Mark Van Der Molen says: I’m one man. While you (seemingly) concede me being regenerate, you opine I’m not transformed by that regeneration. Of course, you well know that doesn’t answer the question whether you think ANY Christian man is transformed by regeneration.
    Last time for a simple answer: Yes_______ No______Continue dodging __________(check one).

    Mark Van Der Molen says: you still won’t say if you believe regeneration transforms a man at all. A simple yes or no will do. I’ll even trust your answer.

    Trust the answer? ooohhh, you must mean trust as in ‘one’s own personal’ felt truth, as opposed to the actual truth?

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  27. Andy, ins’t that proof-texting, which is the tool of the less-than-Reformed? You can’t seriously be suggesting that “transformation” in Romans 12 gives credence to worldly notions of self-improvement.

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  28. Curt, “those three practices he opposed were corporate sins.”

    So do you have a computer and internet service provider that is free from economic exploitation? You keep implying corporate sin is something that afflicts only some of us, and that it’s possible to repent from it.

    And you wonder why someone defines it out of existence. Because it’s existence (like racism) doesn’t change the way anyone has to function in this veil of tears.

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  29. MvdM: Jeff, the answer should be obvious ( see Calvin and our Confessions): the progressive transformation/renewal we experience in this life is incomplete and imperfect. It is brought to thorough completion and perfection in the life to come. We don’t go from zero transformation in this life to 100% in the life to come.

    Thanks. It’s not (yet) obvious to me that the transformation in this life is the same in kind as the transformation to be revealed.

    The Bible does indeed teach that we are transformed (2 Cor 3) and that we should seek out being transformed (Rom 12). That transformation is a conformation unto the image of God, and consists in part in a renewing of the mind. We can reasonably connect this with both the theology of putting off the old nature and putting on the new:

    Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. — Col 3.9 – 10

    You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. — Eph 4.22 – 24.

    BUT

    It is extremely important not to overstate or overclaim the type and extent of the transformation that takes place here.

    First, it would be easy to assume that sanctification in this life is coextensive, a beginning step, of the glorification to come. This is the error of the Wesleyans and the Catholics.

    In the glorification to come, our sin natures will be removed from us. In this life, no matter how much sanctification may take place, our sin nature is not removed.

    Thus, there is a fundamental discontinuity between this life and the next. It is NOT MERELY the case that our transformation is “partial in this life, complete in the next”, but rather that transformation in this life is qualitatively different from that of the life to come because our sin nature remains, and is never transformed.

    Second, it would be easy to assume that sanctification in this life makes some impact on our physical well-being. This is the error of the “Christian Scientists”, the health-wealthers, and in a different way, the Catholics.

    As Paul indicates in 1 Cor 15, our flesh and blood bodies (and here, he does not mean our sin natures!) cannot inherit the kingdom. We need a completely different kind of body, a “Spiritual” body.

    So there is a radical discontinuity again between this life and the next: In this life, we can expect no end to sickness, trouble, or death as a result of our transformation. In the next, we have a complete end to those things.

    So in that sense of physical transformation, there really is a change from 0% to 100% at the eschaton.

    And this brings us back to the question of transforming cities. If we set as our goal to transform cities as an outworking of our transformation, are we not attributing a physical aspect of our transformation in this life, precisely that which the Bible does not invite us to expect?

    Your witness, sir.

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  30. @ Zrim: Full agreement about needing to properly define terms — but Andy’s right. The word metamorpheo is right there in the text. The question is then what it means.

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  31. “Sanctification and glory differ only in degree: sanctification is glory in the seed, and glory is sanctification in the flower. Holiness is the quintessence of happiness.”

    (Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p.242)

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  32. Jeff, except for an adjective here and there, I can’t see much of anything significant to disagree with what you wrote.

    I’ve zeroed in on a more basic level of whether regeneration causes transformation ( or if your prefer, renewal, new qualities, new man, new life) in a man. At all. If one can’t agree on this, then it is pointless to discuss whether the transformation of man himself can be extrapolated to apply to “cities” or compare the difference between the transformation of this age and the age to come.

    Now Darryl thinks one can be regenerate and not be transformed. We don’t know whether he thinks that holds true for all regenerate men or if he allows that some regenerate men are transformed. As expected, he chose Dodge Option #3.. Smart move.

    If there is no transformation in a regenerate man, we’d have to consider whether the Synod of Dort was wrong to reject the errors of “…those that teach in true conversion there cannot be infused by God any new qualities, habits or gifts into the will” , and made a mistake to affirm that “scripture testifies unto us that God doth infuse into our hearts new qualities of faith, obedience, and sense of love toward us.”. (Cf. LD 32 & 33: ‘renews us by His Spirit” the “quickening of the new man”; Belgic 24: “doth regenerate and make him a new man, causing him to live a new life”).

    Hope that helps.

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  33. Andy and Jeff, I understand the t-word in in the text. My point is that it doesn’t mean what the world means. Its meaning aligns better with sanctification, IOW a synonym. Andy’s initial comment seems to suggest that transformation is the language of the Bible pertaining to the Christian life, when the Bible overwhelmingly uses the s-word (that hardly seems controversial). So, the ubiquitous usage of the t-word in relation to the Christian experience is something of a danger since most hearers will think worldly notions of self-improvement. better to sue the s-word since it mean something completely different.

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  34. Andy, I didn’t say that. I said it’s best to use it synonymously with sanctification. That might cut down on the frequency of the t-word (since when was the last time Oprah described herself as “sanctified, baby!”), but so what?

    But find me a confessional chapter on transformation and maybe your vying for its liberal use will make some sense.

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  35. @ MvdM: Yes, that helps. Glad for substantial agreement.

    This is a sticking point: “Now Darryl thinks one can be regenerate and not be transformed.”

    That may be so, but it seems highly unlikely, yes? It might be necessary to tease out what kind of transformations he does or does not reject.

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  36. Zrim: But find me a confessional chapter on transformation and maybe your vying for its liberal use will make some sense.

    Did I miss it where Andy vyied for liberal use?

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  37. Andy, I’ve said, haven’t I? It’s the language of the world. It pertains to self-improvement (moral, psychological, affectional, spiritual, etc.) It pertains not to life long mortification but to the immediate, visible, and tangible. Transformation is Wayne Dyer, sanctification is Paul.

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  38. vdm, m, since you complain that I didn’t answer your questions, you can’t say “Darryl thinks one can be regenerate and not be transformed.”

    Though the case of Dr. Kloosterman makes me consider that position.

    Your cussedness also comes to mind.

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  39. Andy, not sure how much you listen to/hang around Dutch-American Calvinists, but for them, personal sanctification becomes leverage for social and urban transformation:

    If one can’t agree on this, then it is pointless to discuss whether the transformation of man himself can be extrapolated to apply to “cities” or compare the difference between the transformation of this age and the age to come.

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  40. It might be necessary to tease out what kind of transformations he does or does not reject.

    Have at it. I reduce it down to multiple choice questions and can’t get a straight answer. 🙂

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  41. you can’t say “Darryl thinks one can be regenerate and not be transformed.”
    Sure I can. You applied it to me. But crickets still chirping on whether that you think that is the case for all regenerate men. Maybe Jeff can tease that out of you.

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  42. vdm, m, crickets? Kloosterman? Why do you only see what’s wrong with 2k? At a certain point you look myopic. You think you can bluff your way to 20-20?

    I admire nerve, but I have yet to be convinced it’s a fruit of the Spirit.

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  43. “Andy, not sure how much you listen to/hang around Dutch-American Calvinists, but for them, personal sanctification becomes leverage for social and urban transformation . . . .”

    I get the whole NL2K/NeoCalvinist divide that is evident in this discussion. But why is it so hard to acknowledge that the grace of God in sanctifying His elect can’t help but have some beneficial effect upon society as well. (Or is that some 2K firewall that must not be breached?)

    We can disagree as to the degree of that effect, but not (I think) the simple fact of it.

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  44. Andy, what the neo outlook tends to forget is the reality of abiding sin. The Spirit certainly indwells but what about remaining sin? If you don’t account for that then what keeps you from falling into some form of perfectionism where believers are inevitably superior to non-believers, making society great again?

    Q. But can those converted to God obey these commandments perfectly?
    A. No. In this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience. Nevertheless, with all seriousness of purpose,they do begin to live according to all, not only some, of God’s commandments.

    That’s not exactly a rallying cry for believers having great effects on society, unless some think they surpass even the holiest among us.

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  45. I don’t think MVDM or anyone else in this thread is forgetting about or downplaying the reality of abiding sin.

    And “Amen!” to small beginnings. But real beginnings just the same.

    (Not exactly a rallying cry for believers having no discernible difference on society either.)

    I’m more than happy to meet in the middle somewhere.

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  46. Andy, grace leaking out the fingertips and transforming the world believers live in seems more like theory that makes believers feel good about themselves than an honest accounting of how both human society and its believing members actually work.

    Sometimes the middle works, but is that really where Reformed orthodoxy has aspired to?

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  47. Andy, sanctification may have good effects on society. I am inclined to think that society should want the fruit the spirit at least for law-abiding citizens. For people in the arts and the cutting edge of culture, as the Big Apple now defines it, not so much. (Oh, the irony of hipster Kellerites who want to harmonize the SoHo gallery world and neo-Puritanism. Or is it delusion?)

    But in the world of antithesis, lots of God haters have made all sorts of valuable contributions to society. Heck, most of them pay their bills.

    So doesn’t it sometimes look like Christians who talk about transformation, sanctification, and social improvement are engaged in a bit of trying to take credit for contributions that non-Christians have also made or trying to gain credibility from Christianity’s cultural despisers. In other words, transformation is more (to me) about spinning Christianity than about actual holiness. Bless his heart, but I also attribute this to Kuyper in his not so good moments (though he had many fine ones).

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  48. Andy: But why is it so hard to acknowledge that the grace of God in sanctifying His elect can’t help but have some beneficial effect upon society as well?

    I would argue that beneficial is in the eye of the beholder, in which case measuring the benefits of God’s grace becomes a presuppositional problem.

    Case in point: Is it beneficial for Christians to uphold the doctrine of marriage?

    If you are Christian, you think that this is a positive good. Society gets better as a result.

    If you are some varieties of non-Christian, you think that the Christian doctrine of marriage is an obstacle to equality. Society gets worse as a result.

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  49. MdvM: Have at it.

    Let me be more direct. It might be necessary for you to tease out the type of transformation that DGH rejects, so as to avoid a false accusation.

    Your claim, “Now Darryl thinks one can be regenerate and not be transformed”, is false by definition if there is any kind of transformation that DGH accepts as a necessary consequence of being regenerate.

    Why not just ask in a non-loaded manner?

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  50. Zrim: Andy, I’ve said, haven’t I? It’s the language of the world. It pertains to self-improvement (moral, psychological, affectional, spiritual, etc.) It pertains not to life long mortification but to the immediate, visible, and tangible. Transformation is Wayne Dyer, sanctification is Paul.

    Not comfortable with this.

    (1) “Transformation” is Pauline. He uses both concept and word in multiple places in Scripture. The fact that Dyer also uses it in a different sense calls for precision in the term, not abandonment thereof.

    (2) Conversely, “sanctification” is Pauline. But it is also Wesleyan and Pentecostal. That latter fact does not argue for abandonment, but for precision. The word “faith” has been similarly coopted by the world, and in a variety of ways that are unBiblical. Do we stop using the term “faith” because of that? Or “love”? Or “marriage”? Or “God”?

    You’re all about biblical categories, right? Here’s one: per Paul in 2 Cor 3, the Law-Gospel distinction entails a distinction between those who hear the law, and those who are transformed by the gospel. Now: let’s argue about the kind and limits of that transformation.

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  51. And I will add that Christianity has had a *vastly* beneficial impact on every society where it has gained sway. Frankly, I’d much rather live where I do presently (all problems notwithstanding) than, say, Pakistan or North Korea. That is no accident, IMO.

    And none of that makes me look forward to being with the Lord forever, heaven, glorification, a mite less.

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  52. @ Andy: Control for economics when measuring the impact of Christianity. Also, own the falsifiers. Christianity didn’t do much for South Africa or the Cherokees.

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  53. Why not just ask in a non-loaded manner?
    Seriously?.
    I’ve asked:
    You don’t really believe there is zero transformation in this life, right?
    You believe regeneration transforms a man at all? Yes____ No______(check one).
    ..you think ANY Christian man is transformed by regeneration.
    Last time for a simple answer: Yes_______ No______Continue dodging __________(check one).

    Like I said, if you think you can elicit an answer to this simple question, be my guest.

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  54. Jeff,

    Control for economics when measuring the impact of Christianity. Also, own the falsifiers. Christianity didn’t do much for South Africa or the Cherokees.

    Perhaps it would be better to say “the consistent application of biblical truth.” One could argue that in both cases you mention, biblical truth wasn’t consistently applied, if at all.

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  55. Dr. Hart says: “…Christians who talk about transformation, sanctification, and social improvement…”

    Darryl, are you willing to believe once and for all in the existence of Christian’s like me, who do not see “social improvement” as belonging in this sentence, but who nonetheless proclaim that radical PERSONAL improvement, according to biblical (please note, BIBLICAL, not worldly self improvement) standards, is the inevitable effect of being raised from true death in the first man Adam into new eternal life in the last?

    Paul is commanding, like the standards declare, (oh yes they do and you know it) that INDIVIDUALS forsake the influences of the world and replace them with the influences of the things of God. Failure to so much as even have the desire to do this evinces a heart yet dead in sin.

    The apostle of love tells us that the love of the world and the love of the Father cannot share a place on the throne of the heart of the true believer. (accurate paraphrase) That same apostle of love also tells us that we can discern which are which by their PERSONAL practices (the Greek is very important there) of sin or righteousness. He goes so far as to say they are obvious. He does say that, doesn’t he?

    Please get it outta yer head that everybody who says the word “transformation” is an Americanized, hip n groovy, TKNY/neo-cal./take the culture for Jesus, social justice warrior.

    Transformation” of the kind that Paul is talking about, IS PERSONAL sanctification. Cooperating with the Spirit’s setting of one’s self apart for the Lord by forsaking the world and embracing the Kingdom.

    That happens most readily when the church is most fiercely persecuted. Not when she is living the American Dream. You, and many of the regulars on this blog would not exist, COULD not exist, in parts of the world, and or periods of church history, where the ease and luxury afforded you here, also do and or did not exist for Christians.

    Do you agree that it is quite possible to fully embrace WCF XIII and yet reject Americanized, hip n groovy, TKNY/neo-cal./take the culture for Jesus, social justice warrior-ism? If so, this will save a lot of people a lot of typing around here. Including you.

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  56. (I very much apologize. I messed up the closing tag. Please feel free to delete the first version of this if you would please Darryl 😦 Of course I didn’t do it on purpose)
    ————————————————————
    Dr. Hart says: “…Christians who talk about transformation, sanctification, and social improvement…”

    Darryl, are you willing to believe once and for all in the existence of Christian’s like me, who do not see “social improvement” as belonging in this sentence, but who nonetheless proclaim that radical PERSONAL improvement, according to biblical (please note, BIBLICAL, not worldly self improvement) standards, is the inevitable effect of being raised from true death in the first man Adam into new eternal life in the last?

    Paul is commanding, like the standards declare, (oh yes they do and you know it) that INDIVIDUALS forsake the influences of the world and replace them with the influences of the things of God. Failure to so much as even have the desire to do this evinces a heart yet dead in sin.

    The apostle of love tells us that the love of the world and the love of the Father cannot share a place on the throne of the heart of the true believer. (accurate paraphrase) That same apostle of love also tells us that we can discern which are which by their PERSONAL practices (the Greek is very important there) of sin or righteousness. He goes so far as to say they are obvious. He does say that, doesn’t he?

    Please get it outta yer head that everybody who says the word “transformation” is an Americanized, hip n groovy, TKNY/neo-cal./take the culture for Jesus, social justice warrior.

    Transformation” of the kind that Paul is talking about, IS PERSONAL sanctification. Cooperating with the Spirit’s setting of one’s self apart for the Lord by forsaking the world and embracing the Kingdom.

    That happens most readily when the church is most fiercely persecuted. Not when she is living the American Dream. You, and many of the regulars on this blog would not exist, COULD not exist, in parts of the world, and or periods of church history, where the ease and luxury afforded you here, also do and or did not exist for Christians.

    Do you agree that it is quite possible to fully embrace WCF XIII and yet reject Americanized, hip n groovy, TKNY/neo-cal./take the culture for Jesus, social justice warrior-ism? If so, this will save a lot of people a lot of typing around here. Including you.

    Like

  57. Jeff, I repeat: I’ve not contended for the ceasing of the t-word but for a better usage. The point is not unlike the e-word (evangelical) and the c-word (catholic). Perfectly biblical words and all but not exactly to be used in a one-size-fits-all kind of way, which frankly seems to happen quite a bit.

    If you are Christian, you think that this is a positive good. Society gets better as a result. If you are some varieties of non-Christian, you think that the Christian doctrine of marriage is an obstacle to equality. Society gets worse as a result.

    What do you mean by “society gets better, worse”? It’s this better or worse social concept that trips some of us up. What does that even mean? What’s better or worse look like? It’s just so vague and at the same time so loaded.

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  58. Frankly, I’d much rather live where I do presently (all problems notwithstanding) than, say, Pakistan or North Korea. That is no accident, IMO.

    Andy, why, because your time and place is yours or because it’s superior?

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  59. Zrim says That’s not exactly a rallying cry for believers having great effects on society, unless some think they surpass even the holiest among us.

    Oh, disagreeing with Jesus (as usual), Zrim? 🙂 sheesh

    Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

    Matthew 5:16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

    Liked by 1 person

  60. Clearly all cultures are apparently equal, neutral, etc., and the gospel has made no difference anywhere; neither has the darkness of false religion brought an increase in sin & misery wherever it has held sway. Silly me.

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  61. Andy, so superior then. And all because of having redeemed influence. But faith doesn’t make its holder superior to non-holders, I’m sure. Polite but not logical. Betting you play vexed and martyred on behalf of Christians when charged with superiority complexes.

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  62. The angel told Joseph, “you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”. The second person of the eternal Godhead did not become flesh and dwell among us to make the world a better place or to bring social justice.

    However, when enough of His people are actually saved from their sins in the same place at the same time, they cannot, but have an impact on the surrounding culture of some kind. The greatest opportunity to demonstrate this was in this country. It has been squandered on worldliness and carnality with no end in sight. Which should be no shock for any any student of biblical and church history.

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  63. Greg, “Please get it outta yer head that everybody who says the word “transformation” is an Americanized, hip n groovy,”

    It is. I’ve been to Grand Rapids.

    Yes it is possible to embrace WCF. That’s what I do. You don’t. You’re a Baptist. Sheesh.

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  64. However, when enough of His people are actually saved from their sins in the same place at the same time, they cannot, but have an impact on the surrounding culture of some kind.

    Greg, and yet you rail against the neo-Cal SJWers? Don’t look now, but you share the same premise. And what a silly premise it is: bigger + more = BETTER RIGHT NOW!!!!! Cultural prosperity gospel. Triple dog sheesh.

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  65. I was doing a drive by and I could not resist commenting:

    It is teaching like the following that will put pressure on you and make you doubt that learning what the Gospel is and defending it is not as important as some want to make it. They will counsel you to have a more balanced outlook and be just as concerned with transformation and your inner growth in holiness. The implication is that you can become a Pharisee by being obsessed with the Gospel.
    I am obsessed with the Gospel because without it I believe I am lost and still under the condemnation of the Law. When we get honest with ourselves we are not as transformed and holy as we like to think we are. The story of the publican and the Pharisee is meant to expose our tendency towards self-righteousness and comparing degrees of transformation among each other. The parable is meant to drive us to the work of Christ outside of us, not to go inward into excessive introspection. The power is in the Gospel, outside of us, not in inner transformation. We need to be reminded of this truth all the time because someone else is usually telling you something different:
    https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/…/a-prayer-for-gospel…/

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  66. Read John chapter 6 28-40 if you do not believe me that obeying the commandments of God (or doing the works of God) means believing the Gospel. “Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

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  67. Maybe the Gospel coalition is not allowing oldlife to copy and paste articles from their site here. It works on my facebook page but not here.

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  68. This is much more work than I anticipated- here is what Scotty Smith said in his Gospel Coalition article:

    And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:5-8

    Dear Jesus, we tremble at the thought of you speaking these words to us. What could be more sobering and painful than to hear you say, “You talk about me a lot—using multiple Scriptures and well crafted theological language. You’re quick to recognize and correct false teaching, and you’re quite zealous to apply what you know to others. But your heart is far from me.”

    It would be one thing to garner such a rebuke for mimicking the worse Pharisees and the Galatian Judaizers (Gal. 2:11-21)—putting people under the yoke of performance-based spirituality, and failing to acknowledge your work as the sole and sufficient basis for our salvation. But it would be an altogether different thing to be chided for being a gospel snob and scribe. Have mercy on us, Jesus, have mercy on me.

    Forgive us when our love for the truth of the gospel and the doctrines of grace is more obvious than our love for you… as impossible as that may seem.

    Forgive us when we enjoy exposing legalistic, pragmatic and moralistic teaching more than we crave spending time with you in fellowship and prayer.

    Forgive us when we invest great energy in defending the imputation of your righteousness but have very little concern for the impartation of your transforming life.

    Forgive us when we are quick to tell people what obedience is not, but fail to demonstrate what the obedience of faith actually is.

    Forgive us when we call ourselves “recovering Pharisees” or “recovering legalists,” but in reality, we’re not really recovering from anything.

    Forgive us when talk more about “getting the gospel” than we’re actually “gotten” by the gospel.

    Forgive us for being just as arrogant about grace theology as we were obnoxious about legalistic theology.

    Forgive us when our multiplied uses of the word “gospel” in our conversations does not translated into multiplied evidences of the power of the gospel in our lives.

    Forgive us when we don’t use our gospel freedom to serve one another in love, but rather use it to put our consciences to sleep.

    Forgive us for creating gospel-fraternities and gospel-posses which taste to outsiders like ingrown tribes or “clubish” elitism.

    Forgive us for having a PhD in the indicatives yet only a kindergarten certificate in the imperatives of the gospel.

    Forgive us when our passion for the gospel does not translate into a passion for holiness and world evangelism, and caring for widows and orphans.

    Lord Jesus, with convicted and humbled hearts, we ask you to change us, by your grace and for your glory. So very Amen, we pray, in your magnificent and merciful name.

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  69. That is Lutheran soteriology John. (No, not the passage from John 6, with which of course I entirely agree.

    From March 11th of this year on this very site:
    ———————————————————————-
    johnyeazel, I wrote the following for a Facebook confrontation a few months ago:
    ===============================
    One can never be more justified than the moment God declares him so. He is also then positionally sanctified in the sense of being irreversibly set apart and sealed against the day of final redemption. This external reality is ALWAYS accompanied by regeneration and a living faith. Which is the internal reality of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and new life in Christ.

    Personal sanctification is the inevitable lifelong though usually uneven progress of this internal reality working itself outward in word, thought and deed.

    Conversion would be this whole process that begins at justification and ends at the resurrection. (in a nutshell)

    Lazarus is the perfect illustration. He played absolutely NO part in raising himself from death to life. However, once raised, he DID walk outta that tomb. Had he laid there stiff and stinking with no heartbeat or respiration, NObody would have believed he had been raised and quite rightly so. There are certain universally present characteristics among the living. That this goes for new life in Christ just as well, is everywhere proclaimed in scripture.

    I do NOT preach works righteousness and neither do I lay undue, anti-gospel, legalistic burdens on anybody.
    My heartbreak is the false, Satanic, anti-Christian assurance being handed to multitudes that will have them shocked at the judgement seat when they find out some libertine anti (third use) nomian heretic told them they were justified despite the utter non existence of any biblical support for that claim.

    Ya’ll do what you want. You will never EVER overthrow what I have just said from Scripture. One more time. The Roman’s 7 war is the greatest evidence that one’s faith is living and true. A person not engaged in that war, yet with the name of Jesus on their lips is a liar and anyone aiding and abetting that lie will pay for their lies just like they will.

    1 Cor 5 absolutely COMMANDS this kind of judgement. For the good of the individual, the church and the reputation of the risen Christ. A person waging the Romans 7 war evinces new life in Christ. A man who tells me to f***off in Jesus name if I tell him that his affair with his secretary is sin is a false convert. At least he is to be treated as such at present or 1 Cor. 5 is a lie. I humbly challenge you to read THIS
    ———————————————————————

    This really isn’t that complicated. If there’s vital signs, there’s life. If there’s not, there isn’t. They don’t cause life, but they absolutely do show that it”s there.

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  70. Maybe defining justification and regeneration clearly may help: “Should we start asking for a definition of regeneration, because as you say, regeneration is just as necessary as justification, but for a
    different reason?
    I like definitions of both justification and regeneration. In some of
    the standard Calvinist-lite definitions of justification, they use the
    word “sanctification” to say what justification is not. I don’t like
    that explanation, because 1. They equate sanctification with change in
    the person instead of definitive imputed holiness, (Heb 10:14,
    sanctified by the blood, I Cor 1:30) 2. They end up saying that
    justification is by faith and sanctification is by works, and then other
    people (Dan Fuller) respond by saying that sanctification is by faith
    also, that therefore sanctification and justification are the same. 3.
    And then others (Gaffin, Garcia) end up saying that both justification
    and sanctification are the result of union, which is regeneration, which
    they think has happened when an Arminian believes the false gospel.”

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  71. That is not Lutheran soteriology, Greg. Lutherans believe in universal atonement and that one can one can lose their salvation by the sin of unbelief. They go through great contortions in their theology to come to the conclusion that faith and the sacraments save. It gets quite complicated. I’m not advocating a complex theology. I am advocating a simple to understand Gospel. No conditions attached. Gratitude is the only motivation for obedience and we don’t do gratitude that well due to our still inherent sin. You always want to go to some graphic sin like adultery to make your point. Is regeneration a change in the sinners ontological being or is regeneration just the change of heart to believe the Gospel? The regulars have been arguing that point since about 2008 or 2009 when I first started frequenting this site. The debate continues here with not much more clarity.

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  72. John, you’ve always been a genuine interlocutor with me, so this is not an insult, but I have never seen, nor been afflicted by this confusion you are expressing. Well, not for many years. I’ve never seen the muddled definitions you’re giving above in historic reformed orthodoxy.

    Please see the OPC, yes, the OPC site and start reading at QUESTION 70

    Even if you disagree, it will sound eerily like what I’ve been saying and puzzlingly unlike what many of the regulars around here are always saying. (that’s not the only area either)

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  73. Zrim,

    Andy, why, because your time and place is yours or because it’s superior?

    Can’t speak entirely for Andy, but perhaps it has to do with the fact that in North Korea, starving is pretty much an ever-present threat for most people and in Pakistan you have real problems with things such as girls getting raped or killed as punishment for being seen in public with a man who is not their relative?

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  74. Zrim says: Greg says: However, when enough of His people are actually saved from their sins in the same place at the same time, they cannot, but have an impact on the surrounding culture of some kind.
    Greg, and yet you rail against the neo-Cal SJWers? Don’t look now, but you share the same premise. Triple dog sheesh.

    Sheesh zillion, Zrim.
    Jesus: To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened. Luke 13:20-21 … A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.

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  75. Robert, and in America you’ve got fill-in-the-blank-because-every-place-has-its-problems. So what?

    Andy’s larger point is that redeemed members of society inevitably make it better than those that don’t have as many or as influential redeemed members. The problems with this are varied, but one question to ask is why has the Christianized west gone so downhill with all that redeemed influence? I’m presuming here because I’m not quite as convinced of the hand-wringing; but most neos and those influenced by them like to squawk about the breakdown of the west. Well, what happened? The hand-wringing sure seems to be a concession that redeemed influence isn’t nearly what its promoters say it’s cracked up to be. Score 1 for those 2k Calvinists who put the emphasis on abiding human sin.

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  76. It would seem the transformative influence upon society consists strictly in the presence/existence of a community in which God has called folks to the preaching of the gospel and building up of one another in witness and testimony of the one true God and his son whom he has sent. Why is this so quickly presumed upon and cast aside, much like ordinary sanctification, as not the ‘real’ or a greatly truncated treatment? It’s the hope/reality(the fix, the cure, the remedy) to overcoming death and sin. How is that not the most vexing and needful thing of any society and why does it get such short shrift? And if you buy that, why the struggle against the overarching eschatological edifice of the ‘already and the not yet’ and how that gives way to a pilgrim motif and not a conquering one(in WORLDY terms) until the second advent?

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  77. Zrim says: Ali, dough. Mmmm, Xmas cookies,

    !
    Merry Christmas Zrim. How could we not celebrate what He has done!

    for you (and cw, of course) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BriKRukACgA&feature=related

    Luke 2:10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

    Jude 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

    ….
    Chapter IX Of Free Will
    When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage under sin; and, by His grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good

    Chapter X Of Effectual Calling
    enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace. This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein,until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.

    Chapter XII Of Adoption
    are enabled to cry, Abba, Father

    Chapter XIII Of Sanctification
    having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

    Chapter XIV Of Saving Faith
    are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls-the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts

    Chapter XVI Of Good Works
    ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will, and to do, of His good pleasure:

    Chapter XVII Of the Perseverance of the Saints
    can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved. This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ, the abiding of the Spirit, and of the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace

    Chapter XVIII Of Assurance of Grace and Salvation
    enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God,

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  78. Zrim quotes me as saying: “However, when enough of His people are actually saved from their sins in the same place at the same time, they cannot, but have an impact on the surrounding culture of some kind.”

    And then gets me totally wrong as he almost always does:

    Greg, and yet you rail against the neo-Cal SJWers? Don’t look now, but you share the same premise. And what a silly premise it is: bigger + more = BETTER RIGHT NOW!!!!! Cultural prosperity gospel. Triple dog sheesh”

    Let’s do it Zrim. We’ve been going back and forth for how long now? I took you at your word and am going to hold you to it. We can have all these conversations “face to face” as it were, like a couple grown ups.

    I bet at least some of these guys over here would listen to it as well. Come on folks, who’s with me? I promise you Steve, I am not being sarcastic now. Let’s actually TALK about all this stuff we’re always beating each other up about.

    I’m probably more flexible than you are. Pick a time when you have a while and we’ll make it happen.

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  79. Zrim,

    Robert, and in America you’ve got fill-in-the-blank-because-every-place-has-its-problems. So what?

    There’s nothing objectively better about a country in which starvation is darn near impossible than one in which it is an ever-present reality? Why be so relativistic?

    Andy’s larger point is that redeemed members of society inevitably make it better than those that don’t have as many or as influential redeemed members. The problems with this are varied, but one question to ask is why has the Christianized west gone so downhill with all that redeemed influence? I’m presuming here because I’m not quite as convinced of the hand-wringing; but most neos and those influenced by them like to squawk about the breakdown of the west. Well, what happened? The hand-wringing sure seems to be a concession that redeemed influence isn’t nearly what its promoters say it’s cracked up to be. Score 1 for those 2k Calvinists who put the emphasis on abiding human sin.

    Well I agree that the problem with transformationalism is that it so often downplays abiding human sin. But I would say that the West has gone downhill, in part, because there hasn’t been as much true redeemed influence as has often been claimed, and likely even more so in recent years. Redeemed influence, where it exists, is only going to continue where people are redeemed.

    Is it not the case that some of the greatest forces for liberty and other things have come in the West? Perhaps we should be more circumspect about attributing that all to Christianity, but it also seems unlikely that Christianity has nothing to do with it.

    I get the wanting to be more modest. I don’t get “North Korea is just a good a place to live as the United States.”

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  80. Robert, help me out, “redeemed influence” in this context reads to me as coercive. So, whether, HOA level regulation or legislative law crafting and passing or even armed resistance or belligerence. How do you parse out redemptive/cultic imperatives and the offer of the gospel and voluntary association with coercive statecraft? How do you reconcile it with something like 1 Cor 5 and what seems to be a rather obvious dichotomy between cultic norms and non-cultic engagement?

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  81. Robert, so redeemed influence theory (RIT) is valid, it’s just that it’s been on the decline? But this feels a lot like the claims of papal infallibility in the face of so much fracture and impotence. It’s a thing, but doesn’t always work. Huh? Shouldn’t it by definition always work?

    I didn’t say NK is just as good as USA. I can live with a provisional judgment that determines one beats the other. What I don’t get is attributing that to redeemed influence. But within the provisional realm, I’ll also add that I bet most North Koreans do love their nation because it’s theirs. This seems to give bloated westerners fits to get their minds around, but human beings are made to be attached to place even if its regime is bat-shiite crazy.

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  82. Andrew Buckingham (and Erik Charter) have made it known to me that they feel I have badmouthed dear Andrew over here above. I do hereby repent for having done so whether it was my actual intention or not. I apologize, both to Andrew and all those who read my comment. I will try to be more thoughtful in the future.

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  83. Letme, “How do you parse out redemptive/cultic imperatives and the offer of the gospel and voluntary association with coercive statecraft?”

    You become a licensed historian (who knows how to separate professional duties from partisanship — sort of like distinguishing between politics and religion).

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  84. Sean,

    Robert, help me out, “redeemed influence” in this context reads to me as coercive. So, whether, HOA level regulation or legislative law crafting and passing or even armed resistance or belligerence. How do you parse out redemptive/cultic imperatives and the offer of the gospel and voluntary association with coercive statecraft? How do you reconcile it with something like 1 Cor 5 and what seems to be a rather obvious dichotomy between cultic norms and non-cultic engagement?

    I’m not sure I understand your question. I’m certainly not talking about coercion. All I’m saying is that redeemed people have an influence for good on society. I’m not laying out a program for how because the NT doesn’t in any detail except “Love your neighbor.”

    Liked by 1 person

  85. D.G.,
    No I don’t. But I can use my computer to draw attention to problems such as economic exploitation with the goal of reducing it.

    Remember that regardless of how you might try to define corporate sin out existence, induction always proves its existence. For all we need to do is to point at specific examples of corporate sin to prove its existence. So I imagine that in Germany during the Nazi years, those who resisted the Nazi regime also received benefits from the Nazi regime and its corporate sins . So the question becomes how did they use those benefits? Now if it bothers you that we can never wash our hands completely free from some corporate sins, realize that unless we can be perfect, we can’t wash our hands completely clean of personal sins as well.

    BTW, since you don’t acknowledge the existence of corporate sins and I stated that the concept of corporate sin is a contribution that NeoCalvinsts can make to our understanding the world that 2kers can learn from, what contribution do you see NeoCalvinsists making that 2kers can’t that would benefit 2kers’ understanding of the world? Please remember that when I talked about tradeoffs, I said that they exist on a 2-way street. That 2kers have contributions to make to NeoCalvinists.

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  86. Zrim,

    Robert, so redeemed influence theory (RIT) is valid, it’s just that it’s been on the decline? But this feels a lot like the claims of papal infallibility in the face of so much fracture and impotence. It’s a thing, but doesn’t always work. Huh? Shouldn’t it by definition always work?

    My point is that the redeemed can only have influence if there are redeemed people. So if we accepted that Christianity has been some force for good for the broader society, that influence is only going to continue as long as there are Christians. When one generation forgets what came before there are problems. Look at OT Israel.

    I didn’t say NK is just as good as USA. I can live with a provisional judgment that determines one beats the other. What I don’t get is attributing that to redeemed influence. But within the provisional realm, I’ll also add that I bet most North Koreans do love their nation because it’s theirs. This seems to give bloated westerners fits to get their minds around, but human beings are made to be attached to place even if its regime is bat-shiite crazy.

    Maybe it would be better to distinguish between country and regime/government. And sure.

    But as far as attributing it to redeemed influence, do you really think it’s a complete accident that the USA and NK are so different when the percentage of Christians in the USA is so much higher under any reckoning?

    I can get “Maybe Christianity has been the reason for many of the good things in society, but we don’t know how or for sure so we should be more modest.” I don’t get “Even though the West is full of Christians, we can’t no way and no how attribute any advance society has made to Christianity or even suggest it even though millions of Christians have led faithful lives in various vocations.”

    Seems like there could be a happy medium between a D. James Kennedy attributing all the goods of society to Christianity and a since believers still deal with sin, there ain’t no way Christianity can take any credit for any good thing. I don’t see where Scripture allows for either of those extremes.

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  87. Greg, if history(constantiniasm) or current climate(evangelicalism ) is any judge you’d have to say, no. And then just on the theoretical(truly regenerate) and the presence of ongoing sin, I’d have no reason to put confidence in the statecraft ability of such a population JUST because they were regenerate. How about just the common category of being talented/gifted/trained at whatever your hands find to do? You can be above average and even excellent at what you do and NOT be a christian and vice versa and inclusive of all evaluative judgmements on the spectrum.

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  88. My point is that the redeemed can only have influence if there are redeemed people. So if we accepted that Christianity has been some force for good for the broader society, that influence is only going to continue as long as there are Christians.

    Robert, there are Christians in every society, so why the apparent disparity between them? If RIT is right, all nations should then rise and never fall. How does RIT explain the failures on top of the disparities?

    …do you really think it’s a complete accident that the USA and NK are so different when the percentage of Christians in the USA is so much higher under any reckoning?

    As a Calvinist, it’s no accident. But as a 2k Calvinist, RIT explaining the disparity is simplistic and self-serving. The modern west descends from ancient pagan culture; we attribute our civilization to a Greco-Roman heritage, one that came well before Constantine, Paul, and Jesus. Nobody needed one iota of Christianity to have what we’ve inherited. You may think that’s extreme and not happy-medium-ish, but that’s the cold hard fact of history. Have redeemed persons contributed to that society? Of course. Can they claim the lion’s share of credit for it? Self-serving arrogance alert.

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  89. Would a society made up entirely of the truly regenerate elect, and hence God loving disciples of Christ, be “better” than a society in which there wasn’t even one?

    Greg, ever been a member of a church? If churches, only allowed to be an admixture of wheat and tares, experience the calamities of sin, why would a general society full of them be any different? Get real.

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  90. Dr Harts eludes with: “Greg, according to the PCA, if you commune in a racist church you’ve got problems.”

    That isn’t what I asked and the PCA isn’t who I was asking.

    Sean asks: “How about just the common category of being talented/gifted/trained at whatever your hands find to do?”

    How bout :“… talented/gifted/trained at whatever your hands find to do?”
    …AND
    “truly regenerate elect, and hence God loving disciples of Christ”?

    How bout that?

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  91. Zrim: Jeff, I repeat: I’ve not contended for the ceasing of the t-word but for a better usage. The point is not unlike the e-word (evangelical) and the c-word (catholic). Perfectly biblical words and all …

    OK, that’s where I sit also. So … popcorn?

    But given that, this was confusing to me:

    Zrim: isn’t transformation the language of the world (from erudite philosophy to pop psycho-spiritual-moral-self-help-and-improvement), sanctification the Bible? If the Bible is any guide, it wouldn’t seem that the Spirit so much transforms (wham-o!) as sanctifies (ho-hum).

    Who knows what Mark is getting at, but it’s curious why he keeps using worldly language…

    …It’s the language of the world. It pertains to self-improvement (moral, psychological, affectional, spiritual, etc.) It pertains not to life long mortification but to the immediate, visible, and tangible. Transformation is Wayne Dyer, sanctification is Paul.

    I see also where you qualified, so I’m not charging bad doctrine, but just explaining that it was hard to extract your true meaning from the words.

    Peace,

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  92. Jeff, got it. Maybe ascribe it to the foibles of using a broad brush to make a point (as well as those of the abiding sin I keep trying to emphasize showing up in human communication).

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  93. Greg, but Zrim connects the dots. If churches have problems, why would societies of Christians be free from problems? I get it — the church blames her troubles on the world (and aids and abets victimology along the way).

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  94. Seems like this thread has deteriorated into another one of those “get it” vs. “don’t get it” discussions revolving around this transformation business. I, on the other hand, take particular comfort in both the quotations from scripture as well as Calvin’s commentary because just a few weeks ago I fell face-first on the concrete sidewalk near our house while walking the dog and wound up spending the next 4 days in the hospital, ultimately going back home with a pacemaker implanted due to an irregular hear beat problem. So I say, thanks for those meaningful quotations at this crucial time, never mind all of the other side line issues.

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  95. The Reformed church no longer blames its troubles on the Roman Catholics but on “evangelicals”. Even Constantinian Christianity (in which all infants were included by the force of the city-state) could have church discipline enough to cast some “tares” out. But now in our (exile?) situation the “evangelicals” have made church discipline impossible, but as those both Reformed and Catholic, it’s not only impossible for Reformed folks to separate from Evangelicals but also they must include themselves as evangelicals.

    It’s like being included in the covenant—how can God command you if you don’t start out in the covenant? And how can you give speeches to Evangelicals if you are not also Evangelical?

    Carl Truman—Bob and I wrote the book as catholic Christians—those who hold to the creeds of the ancient church—AND as evangelical Christians—those who believe in justification by grace through faith and identify with ecclesiastical bodies which subscribe to Reformation confessions. To use Bob’s distinction, we do not write as Evangelicals whose movement is rooted in the revivals of the eighteenth century and which draws much of its strength from Baptist and parachurch circles. Thus, the volume has sections on some things of interest to Evangelicals, such as the doctrine of scripture, but also on matters of comparative indifference to Evangelicalism while yet of great importance to the Reformers, such as the Lord’s Supper.

    http://info.alliancenet.org/mos/postcards-from-palookaville/the-enemy-without-the-enemy-within#.WFw7JvkrKM-

    Carl Truman—Church discipline is meaningless if you are a Zwinglian on the Lord’s Supper. Which is, I suspect, where the vast majority of evangelical Protestants are these days. If the motor-car is the enemy without, then Zwinglianism is the enemy within. This is because Zwinglianism cripples church discipline from the inside. If your church has a low view of the Lord’s Supper, if it sees it as merely a symbol or as only really having horizontal reference, or if it reduces it to the level of a mnemonic which recalls the events of Calvary, then I would suggest that there will be no such thing as an effective means of discipline in your congregation. To suspend somebody from the Lord’s Table in an environment where the Lord’s Supper is an optional extra or a merely symbolic gesture is scarcely a serious sanction. ‘I am going to ban you from using a mnemonic’ is, I suspect, somewhat less scary than threatening to frown at them, hit them with a spitball or (surely the obvious schoolboy sanction) give them a wedgy. To suspend someone from trivia is really to do nothing at all. Only if the Lord’s Supper is held to be a means of grace and is thus of great importance to the Christian life — and only if we clearly and regularly teach that it is such — will suspension from it be regarded as a serious and sobering matter. “

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  96. Dr. Hart says:”… free from problems?”…

    Please note Darryl that what I actually said was “BETTER.”

    See? “Better.”

    That is a term of gradation indicating (in this case) one entity’s more desirable quality or state over another’s. It may still totally suck, but relative to the entity it is being juxtaposed to, it is also still “better.”

    Compare that to what you and Steve attribute to me please.

    “… free from problems?”

    This is a simple phrase indicating the absence of negative characteristics. Does that sound like what I said?

    I find it tough to believe that a man of your academic achievement and bibliography needs these kinds of remedial English lessons. No, being a rather sharp fella, you play these kinds of semantic games with people in an attempt to escape the conclusions that you have foreseen them unavoidably leading you into if you don’t.

    That may work temporarily to avoid a Socratic fumble, but it does nothing to actually establish your case or weaken anybody else’s. The way to avoid finding yourself in this unenviable position is to simply hold the correct views according to the correct standards. Both are right over there on your own denomination’s webpage. I’ll give ya a ride if ya need one.

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  97. @ Andy, Robert, Greg (hi!), et al.

    Huge can of worms got opened here.

    (1) How to measure “better” in a meaningful way?

    Andy, you take it as clear that some societies can be better or worse, and all three of you take DPRK to be clearly inferior to the USA. I think we all agree that we don’t want to live in the DPRK. Nor Aleppo. Nor Dresden in 1945.

    But in general, there is not a “better” scale for societies because so many tradeoffs, chocolate-vanilla fights, and scope problems arise.

    Tradeoffs: USA in the 19th century had religious freedom in large measure, as well as revivals after a fashion. It also had huge slavery and alcoholism issues.

    Chocolate-vanilla: Is it better to have one denomination or many?

    Scope problems: Was the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of worship an enduringly good idea, OR did it open the door to eventual total anarchy (the answer cannot be known at this time, because we lack sufficient scope).

    (2) How to establish causality?

    If there were such a scale (call it the Andy-Robert-Greg scale, or “ARG”), measuring the effect of “Christian influence” would be very difficult. Visible church or saved individuals? Any creedal Christianity, or does Pentecostalism count? Do Jehovah’s Witnesses partake in Christian influence or do they help produce it?

    (3) Is the influence of Christianity an actual work of the Spirit? Or is it the outcome of “Christian ideas”, along the lines of “ideas have consequences”?

    If the former, then does the Scripture indicate that the Spirit does such work? If the latter, then aren’t we walking down the Christianity-as-the-teachings-of-Jesus-for-the-betterment-of-man path?

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  98. That’s why I intentionally put “better” in quotes and italics Jeff.

    Let’s try this. Let’s make the outrageous assumption for the moment that a Christian is somebody who is a “truly regenerate elect, and hence God loving disciple of Christ.”

    I know that’s really pushin it around here, but can we try it for a minute? Let’s say these people actually take seriously the Lord’s assessment that the two greatest commandments are what He says they are. Let us further assume (just for a minute) that the Reformed standards (especially Westminster) have their exposition of what it means to obey these, like Jesus says those who love Him do, essentially correct. Some of the relevant chapters from the WCF and WLC are already above. Let’s just pretend they were pretty close.

    Would a society filled with people like that be more pleasing to God or one filled with Darryl’s heroes of Hollywood? I mean call me crazy, but I’m going to go with “pleasing God” as being the best single definition of “better.” We know we’re not gonna get this society, but it’s only for the sake of this discussion.

    If you could have the entire population of the U.S. be people who take Westminster seriously or Darryl’s heroes which would you rather have? Which would God rather have? According to His revealed will and not His secret providence before one of you guys starts that. Which would be closer to compliance with His word? Work with me here gents, will ya please? 🙂

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  99. Jeff,

    But in general, there is not a “better” scale for societies because so many tradeoffs, chocolate-vanilla fights, and scope problems arise.

    I’m sympathetic to this point and the others. But on this point, whether a “scale” exists or not, I don’t think it’s arguable that people are busting down the door to get into America and, generally, any Western country. People aren’t busting down the door to get into much of the rest of the world. Seems that clearly a large number of people (a majority? maybe not, I don’t know) think the West is better than whatever they have.

    If there were such a scale (call it the Andy-Robert-Greg scale, or “ARG”), measuring the effect of “Christian influence” would be very difficult. Visible church or saved individuals? Any creedal Christianity, or does Pentecostalism count? Do Jehovah’s Witnesses partake in Christian influence or do they help produce it?

    This is the strongest critique, which is why any claim to transformative influence should be circumspect. What I’m trying to understand is whether Zrim, you, Darryl, et al are saying that the adoption of creedal Christianity, heck, let’s just say creedal Protestantism, by large numbers of people has absolutely no effect on society as a whole in a positive way. Or, are you saying, Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, we just don’t know.

    If the former, then does the Scripture indicate that the Spirit does such work? If the latter, then aren’t we walking down the Christianity-as-the-teachings-of-Jesus-for-the-betterment-of-man path?

    Salvation is a work of the Spirit. But those whom the Spirit saves love their neighbors, and does nothing positive for society come from loving one’s neighbor as one’s self?

    And sure, you could walk down that path, but it’s just as possible for those who deny transformation to conceive of Xty as providing a fire ticket out of hell and let’s just wait around and do nothing until Jesus comes back. Any idea can be perverted. I would say that if you make it the point of Christianity to transform society in any kind of intentional way, you’re in danger. I’m just arguing for something more modest: As large numbers of people become converted they have a leavening or transformative influence without really even trying. Just by loving their neighbors and looking for ways to serve them. Soup kitchens, drug rehab programs, homeless shelters, and all that.

    It would also be hard to deny that the Protestant emphasis on reading the Bible didn’t serve as a strong impetus for universal schooling in the West. I can see how that in turn had an effect on other societies that weren’t Christian. As in, “Hey, the West is very advanced scientifically , etc. Maybe there’s something to trying to educate as many of our citizens as we can.” But I wouldn’t say that Protestants, for example, set out to transform education.

    This is where I think the emphasis of someone like TKNY goes off track. The church goes in and preaches the gospel. It might have some awareness that if people are truly converted and grow in Christ there will be a transformation of some kind, but it doesn’t set out to achieve that. It goes to save people and then release them to serve their neighbors, not to renew the city.

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  100. Robert says: ” I would say that if you make it the point of Christianity to transform society in any kind of intentional way, you’re in danger. I’m just arguing for something more modest: As large numbers of people become converted they have a leavening or transformative influence without really even trying..”

    BINGO!!!!

    We have a winner boys and girls! The great commission is not to make the world a better place in this age. It is to harvest the elect. That however does not mean that God cannot bring seasons of gospel driven betterment due to the influence of His saints as He sees fit along the way.

    This IS what it means to be salt and light. His disciples simply living lives in earnest pursuit of fulfilling the 2 greatest commandments. It will draw those given to the Son by the Father and bring the aroma of death to the rest. What it will NOT do… is nothing.

    This nation uniquely, due to the singular historical gospel influence in her midst, is in the rapid decline because of a whoring, world loving “church” filled with false converts who spend FAAAAAAR more time on blasphemous pornographic entertainment than they do in the word and prayer and with the people of God. (that’s just one symptom btw)

    How this is so complicated for people I’ll never und…. oh wait,…. yes I do understand.

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  101. dgh—JohnnY, how is Smith not being pharisaical himself, you know, showing off his piety before men?

    mcmark—Not that I would even want to speak for John Y, but I think that was his intended point.

    Sarcasm– a kinder and more gentle Reformed worldview will have more influence for good in the world , and also be less self-righteous

    Forgive the apostle Paul for speaking so harshly to the Galatians and his brother Peter when Paul could have been helping the poor and changing the city and spending time in fellowship and prayer.

    Forgive Calvin for making a big deal about imputation instead of infusion, and spending all that time debating impartation with his brother Osiander.

    Forgive us when we tell people that God’s law demands perfection when we know good and well that we ourselves are not perfect but also that in some small way we are at least doing more good for real folks than academic confessionalists.

    Forgive us even more for not being more emancipated than others from fundamentalism and anti-Romanist bigotry.

    Forgive us for not giving as much credit to God’s effectual grace in our growing up good Mormon families as we do to God’s effectual grace in turning us onto some good Reformed books,

    Forgive us for making picky distinctions between law and gospel, even at the same time that we do not believe enough in the law to obey it ourselves and abstain from regular sin

    Forgive us for us not having a guilty conscience, when we could doing so much more.

    Forgive us for have cut “the moral nerve” by putting so much focus on one motive, as if “Lutheran” gratitude was everything.

    Forgive us for not agreeing more quickly with Arminians and Wesleyans about the basic indicatives of the gospel, and learning from them about the necessity of works for final justification

    And thank you for making me more elite than all the other elites, because at least I am honest in my knowledge that I still know nothing but these other folks think they now have knowledge.

    William Smith—Hart seems to be assigned to the cranky edge of Reformed faith and practice… In the end one wonders why this book was written. It seems it will serve to cause those who favor a broader, softer Calvinism to say, “Amen.” This book will not cause those who hold a more defined and robust Calvinism to change their minds. The book does little to advance serious discussion and debate among those in the Calvinistic tradition… It really is not an academic book which would provide a better understanding of varieties of Calvinism. It rather is an advocacy book. And what it advocates is going to a place no one bound by vows accepting the Westminster Standards as teaching the system of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture may go.

    http://thechristiancurmudgeonmo.blogspot.com/2011/07/kinder-gentler-calvinism.html

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  102. Robert (and Greg), so the old transformation without trying by osmosis idea? Trouble is, transforming society actually takes some degree of effort. If I want to transform my grades and pass a test, I have to study, not put the book under my pillow the night before hoping my redeemedness will soak it up. And if my wife wants me to clean the dishes, do I sit in the living room and claim my redeemed influence will get them clean by me not even trying (because that’s just how awesome God is, wow)? That’s how silly the don’t-try-just-osmosis theory sounds.

    It’s also pretty complicated and owes to a lot more than being eternally redeemed. I’d recommend Hunter’s “To Change the World” in which he pretty masterfully deconstructs popular transformative notions. And bonus, Hunter’s a Christian. Here’s a taste:

    If there is an exemplar whose life mission touches all of these themes and strategies—and who is celebrated as such—it is William Wilberforce (1757-1833). Wilberforce was a member of the British House of Commons and spent over forty years seeking to end slavery and “reform the manners” of his society. He was a devout Christian who believed that true personal change came through salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, and his ideals were fed by his deep faith. As an activist, he led a social movement committed to the moral reform of British society and against much opposition eventually prevailed in abolishing the legalized slave trade. Wilberforce was indeed, a great man and a model of what one courageous person willing to step into the fray can do.

    At the end of the day, the message is clear: even if not in the lofty realms of political life that he was called to, you too can be a Wilberforce. In your own sphere of influence, you too can be an Edwards, a Dwight, a Booth, a Lincoln, a Churchill, a Dorothy Day, a Martin Luther King, a Mandela, a Mother Teresa, a Vaclav Havel, a John Paul II, and so on. If you have the courage and hold to the right values and if you think Christianly with an adequate Christian worldview, you too can change the world.

    This account is almost entirely mistaken.

    It is a Hegelian idea of leadership and history, popularized by the nineteenth-century Scottish historian, Thomas Carlyle…For Carlyle, heroes shaped history through the vision of their leadership, the power of their intellect, the beauty and delight of their aesthetic, and animating it all a certain inspiration from above…[from Moses to Jesus to Buddha to Aristotle to Julius Caesar to Napoleon to Aquinas to Luther to Darwin to Freud to Monet and Degas] All form an aristocracy of knowledge, talent, ability, ambition, and virtue, and so endowed have stood like switchmen on the train tracks of history; it is their genius and the genius of other heroic individuals that have guided the evolution of civilization this way or that; for better or for worse.

    The only problem with this perspective is that it is mostly wrong. Against this great-man view of history and culture, I would argue (along with many others) that the key actor in history is not individual genius but rather the network and the new institutions that are created out of those networks. And the more “dense” the network—that is, the more active and interactive the network—the more influential it could be. This is where the stuff of culture and cultural change is produced…My point is simply that charisma and genius and their cultural consequences do not exist outside of networks of similarly oriented people and similarly aligned institutions.

    I can feel the Wilberforce example brewing under your line of reasoning. It wants to come out soon. Let Hunter keep it from surfacing. And the idea that universal literacy came by way of Protestant emphasis on Bible reading is mostly fantasy. It comes from that laboratory that takes whatever westerners prize and awkwardly affixes Christian credit to it.

    Robert, you also seem to think that just by converting sinners it somehow is all it takes to have Iasting and uninterrupted influence for the better (as if soup kitchens and shelters prove something or all society needs). More Hunter:

    What is more, people of every creed and no creed have talents and abilities, possess knowledge, wisdom, and inventiveness, and hold standards of goodness, truth, justice, morality, and beauty that are, in relative degree, in harmony with God’s will and purposes. These are gifts of grace that are lavished on people whether Christian or not. To be sure, there is a paradox here that perplexes many Christians. On the one hand, nonbelievers oftentimes possess more of these gifts than believers. On the other hand, because of the universality of the fall, believers often prove to be unwise, unloving, ungracious, ignorant, foolish, and craven. Indeed, more than any Christian would like to admit, believers themselves are often found indifferent to and even derisive of expressions of truth, demonstrations of justice, acts of nobility, and manifestations of beauty outside the church…The qualities nonbelievers possess as well as the accomplishments they achieve may not be righteous in an eschatological sense, but they should be celebrated all the same because they are gifts of God’s grace.

    So the idea that people are converted (for real, Greg) and they become pure salt and light (without even trying, mind you) runs up against the realities of…wait for it…abiding sin. As a believer, I get how that’s good for the ego. The problem is that it just doesn’t mesh with reality very easily.

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  103. This nation uniquely, due to the singular historical gospel influence in her midst, is in the rapid decline because of a whoring, world loving “church” filled with false converts who spend FAAAAAAR more time on blasphemous pornographic entertainment than they do in the word and prayer and with the people of God.

    Robert, you sure you want to be in this clown’s corner?

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  104. Jeff, what happens if thinking Christianity makes societies better actually creates arrogance about American superiority and sets high expectations for POTUS so that left and right fight with different versions of self-righteousness?

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  105. Dr. Hart says: “Jeff, what happens if thinking Christianity makes societies better actually creates arrogance about American superiority and sets high expectations for POTUS so that left and right fight with different versions of self-righteousness?”

    This is called “idolatry”. The very thing I campaigned against in campaigning against Trump.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-god-and-country-christianity-is-just-another_us_57e0324ee4b0d5920b5b32db

    Yes at Huffpo.

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  106. Sorry, been busy. I agree DGH. McMark stated in his comment the point I was making. Have not read all the comments since my comment so I can’t say anything else at this time.

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  107. Greg, by arguing that Christianity makes societies better, you plant the seed of idolatry. America was great when it was Christian. Tell me how you don’t lend support to that notion.

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  108. CAN make societies better is what was said. It is not promised.

    America was never a “Christian Nation.” There’s no such thing as a Christian nation in the new covenant church age. Only Christian people.

    Also, it is no refutation of one right position that it may be abused into another a wrong one.

    We have a street mission today. I’ll be offline until much later.

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  109. D.G.,
    The example of Nazi Germany challenges the denial of corporate regardless of where one lives. That is because the blanket denial of anything, corporate sin here, can be disproven by a counterexample. That is part of logic.

    Anyway, because of my initial point, this is my question: What contributions do you believe NeoCalvinism can make to Reformed 2KT? If you want to answer the other way in addition, that is fine. I am sure my small list of the contributions Reformed 2KT can make to NeoCalvinism is not exhaustive.

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  110. Curt, 2k is chiefly a corrective to neo-Calvinism? Do N-C’s love Jesus, go to church, follow the regulative principle, catechize, hold to Dort? If so, that’s great and 2k agrees. But I’ve been in and observed Dutch Calvinism long enough to see that the aspirations of every square inch have supplanted the creeds, Reformed worship, and a high view of word and sacrament.

    Don’t ask questions in a vacuum.

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  111. Robert: What I’m trying to understand is whether Zrim, you, Darryl, et al are saying that the adoption of creedal Christianity, heck, let’s just say creedal Protestantism, by large numbers of people has absolutely no effect on society as a whole in a positive way. Or, are you saying, Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, we just don’t know.

    Closer to the latter: (1) Not universally perceived as good, (2) hard to measure, (3) not always outwardly visible, and (4) not to be sought as an end in itself.

    Let’s focus first on our points of agreement:

    * Christians — the regenerate kind that Greg is on about — are “the light of the world” and “the salt of the earth.” (Matt 5)
    * Christians as they are being sanctified “shine like stars in the sky” (Phil 2).

    We agree that the Bible uses these metaphors to describe *some kind* of outward influence that Christians have.

    (1) Now, what is the nature of that influence? I would argue on the basis of 2 Cor 2 as well as the general theology of the church that this influence is specifically that Christians hold forth Christ to those who are elect and those who are perishing — to the one, the smell of life; to the other, the smell of death.

    If this be so, then it is odd to suggest that Christian influence is objectively and outwardly positive on society. No society welcomes the smell of death, and the Romans certainly didn’t welcome it for 300 years.

    (2) We are close to agreement that the influence is hard to measure, so I won’t belabor it.

    (3) Given that a Christian’s good deeds are not to be done for public consumption, it should be clear that Christian influence may well be poorly understood by his neighbors.

    (4) Seeking out societal change as an end in itself is really the Rubicon for the social gospel. If Christianity really does have a positive influence on society, it can only do so as a side-effect. We know this because the doctrine of “positive societal change” is nowhere taught in Scripture; hence, is not essential to the Christian life.

    Does that help?

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  112. Some 2kers are more “liberal” than others

    Joseph Minich –When a church speaks rightly, it is no more backed by the threat of divine judgment than when an individual Christian speaks the truth

    Jonathan Leeman–I don’t think the political nature of the church is completely disanalogous to the political nature of the state. Like an embassy, the church does not swing the sword for itself, but calls upon a mighty kingdom and king to swing the sword for it. This embassy is separated from its kingdom not by geographic space, but by eschatological time …. But that doesn’t make it any less real or in-fact. https://mereorthodoxy.com/jonathan-leeman-responds-political-church-review/

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  113. Jeff, “If Christianity really does have a positive influence on society, it can only do so as a side-effect.”

    especially if Christians keep in mind, “to die is gain.”

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  114. Greg, do remember that the “dying-to-Christ” notion produced martyrs — think Peter and Paul. Baptizing the emperor resulted in transformation. Do your history.

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  115. My mistake Darryl.. I misread you. I thought you were talking about dying to self and living for Jesus. I should have made the obvious Phil. 1 connection. In a hurry again.

    I have been saying everywhere that Christ’s church is never more pure and powerful (2 sides of the same coin) than when she is most fiercely persecuted. The United States is in the middle of becoming yet another instrument in the hands of the Lord for making this very point.

    As in the Facebook conversation with Zrim linked above. If there were ever a chance for there to be an exception, the church on this continent was it. As has however ALWAYS been the case since the at least the moment Joshua led the children of Israel into the promised land, the lure of the bloody, blasphemous, pornographic gods of the nations is irresistible.

    We have instead, those best equipped to know this, with glorious contrary historical statements of faith and practice, living instead in servile bondage to America’s Baals, Molochs and Dagons while teaching others to do the same.

    Rest assured Dr. Hart. I fully own and declare that left to myself, I am in no position to preach to anybody. I learned these lessons the hard way. The God of WCF II always wins.

    Always.

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  116. D.G.,
    So in other words, 2kT has everything to teach neoCalvinism and nothing to learn from it?

    Btw, never did ask you a question from a vacuum. But I will add your injunction to the 10 Commandments.

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  117. Curt, what do you feel has been written and taught since say 1900, that the church didn’t already know?

    There may be some clarifications here and there, I’m asking YOU for your answer. What’s new and needed from a biblical standpoint?

    Liked by 1 person

  118. Jeff C says: Seeking out societal change as an end in itself is really the Rubicon for the social gospel. If Christianity really does have a positive influence on society, it can only do so as a side-effect. We know this because the doctrine of “positive societal change” is nowhere taught in Scripture; hence, is not essential to the Christian life.

    John Y: That was a helpful summary of how the Gospel is or is not an influence on the surrounding culture. There are some Scriptural passages that imply that God preserves a culture only because He has not gathered all of his elect out of it yet. And for the sake of His elect who can only endure a certain amount of suffering and tribulation. I still think that Christians can influence some social issues that are blatantly causing lots of problems for lots of people. For example, the prison population in America has gone from about 350,000 in the 1970’s to over 2, 200,000 in 2014. That is a big problem that is not being addressed for a variety of political reasons. I think the Gospel you believe in will cause you to take certain stances on certain political, social and economic issues. And false Gospels may cause you take opposite stances on certain political, social and economic issues. In my mind, there is no doubt that a false Gospel is what caused the prison population to go from 350,000 to 2,200,000 in America. And a lot of the Sacralist Christians approved of that growth of the prison population. I could state some other social issues that are a big problem but will limit my post to that one. True Gospel believers should speak out about blatant social issues like that.

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  119. Perhaps many of the true Gospel believers (the elect) will be the next ones gathered into the American Gulag. Not that many may be there already. What kind of social theology makes those believers in that social theology conform to the social standards of the powers that be in the culture?

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  120. “Greg,
    So since 1900, according to you, the Church has everything to teach and nothing to learn from others?”

    “I’m asking YOU for your answer. What’s new and needed from a biblical standpoint?”

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  121. @ John Y:

    We agree that believers can and should seek to make lives better for their neighbors.

    Can you see those efforts in the context of our shared humanity as Adam’s children, and the efforts made as efforts to fulfill the Law to love God and love neighbor?

    Viewed from that lens, those efforts are not so much Gospel as they are Law; and not the purview of the church but of the state. Believers acting for prison reform are acting in their role as citizens of the US, not in their role as ambassadors of Christ.

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  122. I still think that Christians can influence some social issues that are blatantly causing lots of problems for lots of people. For example, the prison population in America has gone from about 350,000 in the 1970’s to over 2, 200,000 in 2014. That is a big problem that is not being addressed for a variety of political reasons. I think the Gospel you believe in will cause you to take certain stances on certain political, social and economic issues. And false Gospels may cause you take opposite stances on certain political, social and economic issues. In my mind, there is no doubt that a false Gospel is what caused the prison population to go from 350,000 to 2,200,000 in America.

    John, are you suggesting that the justice system, when sorting out how to go forward in its work in relation to prison populations, seriously take into account what is and what is not a true gospel? And that’s an odd set of dots you’re connecting between false gospels and prison populations, not unlike Pat Robertson connecting terrorist attacks with gay pride parades. When Christians piously speculate like this, do they understand how they’re saying more about their pet issues than anything else? Robertson is fixated on sex, others prisons.

    And what exactly are these gospel implications for political-social-econ issues? Are they for every square inch of issues, or just the big loaded ones?

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  123. Jeff, I think I do understand what you are saying because I think I understand the 2K assumptions that are the basis for your comment. I did at one time buy into the 2K social theology. I spent a lot of time trying to understand it. However, after reading a lot of critiques about 2K I have lots of questions and doubts about it. I have doubts about the concept of common grace. A concept I used to believe in. I have doubts about Natural Law. I have doubts about the elect Gospel believers making efforts to fulfill the Law of God. The Law brings condemnation and wrath to those who try to fulfill it. I spent many years as a Theonomist trying to fulfill the Law of God. I failed miserably yet still held out hope that maybe one day my efforts would make me acceptable to God. I then learned the Gospel of Westminster West- mostly from Horton and Modern Reformation magazine. “Putting Amazing Back into Grace,” by Horton did bring me some relief but there were still some missing elements about the Gospel in Horton’s Gospel. I forgot to mention the many years spent with Sproul and Gerstner and the Edwardsian leaning Calvinists. They were before Horton and Westminster West and after the Theonomists. Then I spent some time with the Lutherans because by that time I was so afflicted by my inability to fulfill the Law of God either by my efforts, by faith or by union with Christ that at least they could somewhat relate to where I was coming from. Now, the mention of the Law brings me no hope at all. And Lutheranism and Calvinism really do not mix at all. I did get sidetracked from the 2K inquiry. However, it was your sentence regarding the fulfilling of the Law of God that sent me there.

    The Law is the enemy of those who are locked up in jail. No reform of the Law will help those in prison. Nor will the efforts of the inmates to fulfill the Law be helpful to them. The inmates need to be rescued by the Gospel. To be rescued from their inability to fulfill the Law. And so do all of us. We need someone who has died for all our transgressions- past, present and future. Only the elect receive that as part of their heritage and inheritance. I believe now in something you would probably call Hyper-Calvinism and the practice of grace that Paul Zahl the Episcopalian writes about. He has done a lot of work with those afflicted with the afflictions I am afflicted with. It is hard for those who don’t have similar afflictions as mine to relate to what I am saying. I understand that now. Zahl works through ramifications and implications and applications of grace. Most of us talk grace but live law. He is really helpful on living grace. The Law is not the Gospel and the Gospel in not the Law whether you are talking about justification or sanctification. That is a long answer to the 2K inquiry. I don’t think you can separate the Kingdom of God from the Kingdom of Man. God rules both realms and when you separate the kingdoms their is great danger of conflating Law and Gospel. Even when it is your intention not to do so. I think Covenant theology has a tendency to do that too.

    I am not expecting anyone to buy into what I am saying at a confessional Reformed website. I am just trying to make clear where my beliefs lie now. This is open dialog here- so, I don’t think I am out of line.

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  124. z– are you suggesting that the justice system, when sorting out how to go forward in its work in relation to prison populations, seriously take into account what is and what is not a true gospel?

    A Baptist—You know, I was debating an evangelical professor on NPR, and this professor said, ‘Pastor, don’t you want a candidate who embodies the teaching of Jesus and would govern this country according to the principles found in the Sermon on the Mount? I said, No I would run from that candidate as far as possible, because the Sermon on the Mount was not given as a governing principle for this nation. Nowhere is government told to forgive those who wrong it, nowhere is government told to turn the other cheek. When I’m looking for somebody who’s going to exterminate ISIS, I don’t care about that candidate’s tone or vocabulary, I want the meanest, toughest, son of a you-know-what I can find….

    mcmark—If you can’t follow the law of Christ when you are working your job, or when you are killing escaping prisoners, then don’t try to do that job. I would think those who are loyal to at least two or more kingdoms would be glad to see “utopian gnostic apolitical non-realistic non-catholic sectarians” bow out of the age old apologetic attempt to find a common translation by means of “natural law”. Why suspect that the come-outers are about to pull off their peasant coats and begin a theonomic revolution?

    Bonhoffer to other German theologians—“The concept of orders of creation must be rejected as a basis for the knowledge of the commandment of God.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxRYIod6NrE

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  125. Zrim,

    Your inquiry is again loaded with 2K assumptions. You have accepted the differentiation between the two kingdoms. I think that confuses more issues than clarifies. I don’t think it is the Christians responsibility to go out and take dominion over the culture. It is the Christians responsibility to call with the Gospel all of Gods elect who remain “in Adam” and still under the wrath of God. It is also the Christians responsibility to seek the good of Babylon in whatever the environment the Christian finds himself functioning in. How that plays out is up to the creative responses of those who know the true Gospel.

    There are many false Gospels and plans of redemption that linger around in peoples minds. They do influence how people make laws and what they try to legislate in the public square. I think a lot of sacralist “Christians” were influential in reforming the prison laws and sentences especially in regards to the war on drugs that ended up decimating a lot of black neighborhoods in big cities. Anyone who has watched, “The Wire” can see the destruction this brought to many neighborhoods. If you watch the documentary, “12th,” they go through the history of how and why the prison population got expanded between the 1970’s and today. A lot of it was due to legislation pushed and passed by Sacralist leaning Christians who were seeking to push their agenda’s in the public square. Their mentality was to get tough on the sentencing of drug dealers and users that ended up with racial overtones written all over it. Instead of seeking creative and alternative solutions to the problem within the inner cities they sought to get more tough on the problem without really understanding what was really going on in the environments of the big cities. Again, “The Wire,” documents this problem in great detail. And it showed that getting tough on the problem did more harm than good.

    I am just gleaming the surface of the issues here. I hope that this and my comment to Jeff adequately responds to what you inquired about.

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  126. Jeff,

    Can you see those efforts in the context of our shared humanity as Adam’s children, and the efforts made as efforts to fulfill the Law to love God and love neighbor?

    Why not both?

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  127. Jeff,

    Yes that is helpful.

    (1) Now, what is the nature of that influence? I would argue on the basis of 2 Cor 2 as well as the general theology of the church that this influence is specifically that Christians hold forth Christ to those who are elect and those who are perishing — to the one, the smell of life; to the other, the smell of death.

    If this be so, then it is odd to suggest that Christian influence is objectively and outwardly positive on society. No society welcomes the smell of death, and the Romans certainly didn’t welcome it for 300 years.

    I largely agree; however, I think we need to be careful about applying what smell of death means. If it just pertains to the gospel, which I think it does, I know plenty of people who think Christian theological beliefs are ridiculous but nonetheless greatly value what we might call the “non-religous” influence of Christians—hardworking, good neighbors, etc.

    I think it is entirely possible for people on the one hand to think Christian theology is ridiculous but on the other hand value what Christian people do and what Christian values can contribute to a society. Do we not have an example of that in the founding fathers, many of whom were happy for religion, and specifically the Christian religion, to shape the ethos of the nation even while rejecting the resurrection, etc. ?

    (2) We are close to agreement that the influence is hard to measure, so I won’t belabor it.

    Yes, and it’s the biggest weakness for anyone with any transformationalist leanings.

    (3) Given that a Christian’s good deeds are not to be done for public consumption, it should be clear that Christian influence may well be poorly understood by his neighbors.

    Sure.

    (4) Seeking out societal change as an end in itself is really the Rubicon for the social gospel. If Christianity really does have a positive influence on society, it can only do so as a side-effect.

    Yes. And it’s really the second point that I’m arguing for. It’s accidental in that respect.

    We know this because the doctrine of “positive societal change” is nowhere taught in Scripture; hence, is not essential to the Christian life.

    I don’t know. I’d have to qualify this. We are told to love our neighbors. And enough of us love our neighbors such that abandoning babies altogether becomes largely unthinkable and a rarity, as it did in the early church, you’ve brought about positive societal change from a biblical perspective. Bible is pretty hard against abandoning orphans, murder, that such stuff. But here it isn’t so much that people sought positive societal change directly but that it just happened.

    So I wouldn’t advocate going into a neighborhood for the express purpose of renewing the neighborhood. But if I were to plant a church, I’d have an express purpose of seeking to love people in that neighborhood, knowing that doing so might bring positive change in that neighborhood. I don’t know how you do otherwise.

    Does that help?

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  128. Zrim,

    Robert (and Greg), so the old transformation without trying by osmosis idea? Trouble is, transforming society actually takes some degree of effort. If I want to transform my grades and pass a test, I have to study, not put the book under my pillow the night before hoping my redeemedness will soak it up. And if my wife wants me to clean the dishes, do I sit in the living room and claim my redeemed influence will get them clean by me not even trying (because that’s just how awesome God is, wow)? That’s how silly the don’t-try-just-osmosis theory sounds.

    I’m not saying we should set out to transform society. I’m saying that people just go out and try to love their neighborhoods. You brought up Wilberforce. Was Wilberforce trying to transform society? I would argue he was just trying to love his neighbors who were slaves and any transformation that happened was a byproduct of that.

    Your examples are beside the point. Yes effort is required. But what is the aim of the effort? Maybe enough Christians in a neighborhood start caring for those who have no father at home simply because they know they should. Perhaps that leads to those kids having a brighter future because they’ve been mentored. Perhaps ultimately that causes a neighborhood to be better. Did the Christians set out to make the neighborhood better? No. But they didn’t sit around either. They saw a local need and tried to meet it.

    That’s the kind of “transformation by osmosis” I’m talking about. Not the inane idea of getting 15 percent of New York to go to an evangelical church because then that will renew the city. I’m talking about organic development that isn’t going to have the same fruit in every place.

    Robert, you also seem to think that just by converting sinners it somehow is all it takes to have Iasting and uninterrupted influence for the better (as if soup kitchens and shelters prove something or all society needs).

    That’s not what I argued. And if soup kitchens and shelters aren’t an improvement, then you need to work with some homeless people for a few months and then tell me what you think.

    So the idea that people are converted (for real, Greg) and they become pure salt and light (without even trying, mind you) runs up against the realities of…wait for it…abiding sin. As a believer, I get how that’s good for the ego. The problem is that it just doesn’t mesh with reality very easily.

    Hunter’s point is worth taking. Now it will be useful for him to apply it cross-culturally. Maybe he has, I don’t know. The West doesn’t have the same notions of justice as the Islamic Middle East or the Buddhist Far East. It’s easy to make judgments like that, which are true in many respects, when you are looking at one society. Maybe the reason why nonbelievers seem to have so many common intuitions of justice in the West as Christians is because they were raised in a culture shaped by Christianity even if they never became believers?

    Nobody’s denying the reality of abiding sin. What we’re questioning is the notion that sin is so overwhelmingly powerful that regeneration doesn’t really do anything except get you a fire ticket out of hell.

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  129. Robert, but nobody is suggesting a denial of abiding sin, only its de-emphasis in favor of elevating the Spirit within that seems to have obvious powers to just ooze out over the sin and inevitably transform. It’s religious fantasy not unlike that of papal infallibility to overcome human sin and unite.

    Maybe the reason unbelievers seem to have so many common intuitions of justice in the West and elsewhere is…general revelation? Sorry, but ascribing it to redeemed influence is more self-serving arrogance. What is the point of general revelation if it takes believers to make it go? Plenty of human civilization has thrived without any help from believers. The cross itself needs pagan Roman justice to make sense–nobody hangs on a tree unless he belongs there, and to the extent that Christ took on human sin Roman justice as God’s servant prosecutes it perfectly. No Christian influence on that pagan justice system.

    And nobody is suggesting “that sin is so overwhelmingly powerful that regeneration doesn’t really do anything.” The point, per HC 114, is that sin is indeed so total and corrupting that its mortification is a very slow and more often than not an imperceptible process. Transformers (and semi-transformers) talk about societal change as the inevitable result of faith the way prosperity gospelers talk about personal health and wealth as an inevitable result of faith. Odd how some who would give personal prosperity claims nothing but skepticism can be so open to claims of social prosperity.

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  130. @jy
    ” True Gospel believers should speak out about blatant social issues like [reform of criminal justice system ]”

    Curious that the curve has bent downward as the number of irreligious has increased. What is the biblical position on sentencing guidelines, prosecutorial discretion, and trial by jury? I agree that there are problems with our cjs, but I don’t see what biblical teaching has to do with it. Insofar as the bible is silent on this matter it seems we shouldn’t be surprised to find a variety of opinions among believers on what should be done. Indeed, why should we think believers have a better grasp of the consequences of the implications of various policy prescriptions than nonbelievers? Is Stuntz more trustworthy than Becker because he is evangelical? What about Kleinman? Should I be more skeptical if an atheist like Volokh embraces a position on cjr? The sociological data seems to indicate that most measures of wellbeing improve as religious fervor fades.Vermont has lower rape, murder, and abortion rates than more observant Mississippi or West Virginia (Mormon UT kicks everyone’s butt). Japan is better than the US. 21st Century Britain is better than 19th Century Britain. I can make sense of this if Sanctification is mostly about the growth in holiness of the elect and the implications are for an eternal church rather than a world that is here today and burned up tomorrow.

    But I concede that I can be dense, so maybe I am missing something obvious here.

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  131. JohnnY, who said natural law and common grace are fundamental to 2k? 2k is chiefly about the spirituality of the church. The church does (word and sacrament and prayer) what no other institution does. And the church leads to salvation, not the ministry of culture making. Some 2kers use NL, some CG. But all trust God to preserve social order for the advancement of the kingdom of grace. How we help to preserve that order is pragmatic.

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  132. JohnnY, isn’t it the Christian’s duty to lead a quiet and peaceful life? Isn’t it the apostles and pastors duty to call people to repentance? Surely you’ve heard a little about ecclesiology and office since reading at Old Life.

    Liked by 1 person

  133. D.G.,
    In what context are we obligated to lead a quiet and peaceful life? IN addition, what did the epistles state was the both the concern and opposite to leading a quiet and peaceful life? How does the quiet and peaceful life compare to Schaeffer’s warning against seeking personal peace and prosperity?

    And why does the closing of the canon mean that the church cannot learn from the outside world especially when God’s common grace is in that world?

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  134. johnyeazel says: It is the Christian’s responsibility ..

    Also responsibilty: to practice righteousness, make disciples, fulfill our debt

    practice righteousness
    -1 John 2:29 everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him
    -1 John 3:7 make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;
    -1 John 3:10 anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God.
    -Rev 22:11 let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness
    -Matt 5:19 whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
    -Matt 7:24 everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
    -Matt 23:3 you must be careful to do everything they tell you;but do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.
    -Luke 8:21 My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
    -Phil 4:9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.
    -1 Tim 5:4 learn to put their religion into practice.

    make disciples
    -Matt 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
    -Col 1:28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.

    fulfill our debt
    -Rom 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

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  135. Dr Hart says: “Curt, make that 100 AD. Since the closing of the canon the church has nothing to learn from any other source.”

    There you go again. This is preposterous Darryl and I have never so much as hinted at anything that could even be accidentally mistaken for such an idea. I quote the standards all the time for instance don’t I?

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  136. Zrim,

    If it were just a matter of common grace, we’d expect to see more in common between cultures, but we don’t. Aside from Lewis’ Mere Christianity, that is. Western notions of justice aren’t Islamic ones, for example, particularly when it comes to sentencing girls who are seen in public with men other than their husbands.

    I get wanting to be more circumspect. I don’t get the denial that differences between cultures have nothing to do with religion. There’s a reason why honor killings are pretty much nonexistent in the West but not in Islamic cultures. So if we should be more careful about identifying where Chrstianity has had a transformative influence, I get it. Outright denial and all who suggest otherwise are radical rubes strikes me as the errors of the Religious Right wearing left wing garb. Both are equally fundamentalist.

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  137. Hi Robert,

    Let’s drill down a bit.

    JRC: We know this because the doctrine of “positive societal change” is nowhere taught in Scripture; hence, is not essential to the Christian life.

    Robert: I don’t know. I’d have to qualify this. We are told to love our neighbors. And enough of us love our neighbors such that abandoning babies altogether becomes largely unthinkable and a rarity, as it did in the early church, you’ve brought about positive societal change from a biblical perspective.

    Agree: We are told to love our neighbors.

    You then draw an implication:

    IF we love our neighbors, THEN our neighbors will adopt our norms of love as their norms of action, SO THAT we have achieved positive societal change, which you characterize with the phrase “from a biblical perspective.”

    In your example, the norm of love is “do not abandon babies”; the society adopted the norm because the Christian community upheld it.

    The IF…THEN connection needs closer attention. Why would our neighbors adopt our norms?

    One possible mechanism is that the consciences of our neighbors are pricked by the evident rightness of our norm (e.g., not abandoning babies), so that they adopt the norm because of a desire to do what is right.

    But this mechanism is precisely the “Natural Law” argument, which argues that we and our non-Christian neighbors share the Law in our consciences (distorted by sin, of course), so that we may appeal directly to the Law written on the conscience as a source of norms.

    Another possible mechanism is that Christians achieve positions of cultural or political leadership, so that their norms become the norms of society either through social pressure OR force of law.

    But this mechanism is definitely not to be desired by Christians inasmuch as it uses shame or force to compel people to “act Christianly” while believing non-Christianly.

    Can you suggest another mechanism?

    Also, what did your phrase “from a biblical perspective” mean? Did you mean that a biblical perspective was the impetus for the positive social change? Or did you mean that the change was a “positive social change” as evaluated by a biblical perspective?

    Thanks,

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  138. DGH: JohnnY, isn’t it the Christian’s duty to lead a quiet and peaceful life? Isn’t it the apostles and pastors duty to call people to repentance? Surely you’ve heard a little about ecclesiology and office since reading at Old Life.

    JohnnY: I can’t help but laugh when I type in JohnnY. To answer your question, off the cuff- I have read the book you wrote on Nevin, I also read, “The Lost Soul of American Protestantism.” I never did read the Mother Kirk book. I have read Horton’s volume 4 in his 4 volume, “Covenant and Eschatology” series. Like 2K, I did buy into it at one time. My take on ecclesiology now is that the sacraments were a great distraction during the Reformation and caused all sorts of problems during that time. No one could agree on anything about the Sacraments. Reformation churches are still arguing and split because of them. To borrow a piece from McMark that I am pretty sure he has posted at oldlife before:

    There are many different arguments for paedobaptism, some of which contradict each other. Of course neither of these things prove it wrong. 1. There can be several different arguments for a right thing. 2. there can be a bad argument for a right thing.
    To be simple, we can divide the arguments into two:
    1. Augustine (and before him): infant water takes away original sin (defined mostly as corruption not as guilt).
    2. Zwingli: infants were included in the Abrahamic covenant, so unless there is an explicit change, they are included in the covenant of grace, which is all the covenants lumped into one. Surely God is not less gracious in the new covenant than in the old.
    But just to explore the differences a little more: what do paedobaptists say about faith and baptism?
    1. Romanists say that water infuses faith into the infant. But unless you are talking to a Romanist, I would not bring this up, since the Deformed will rightly say that’s not them.
    2. Lutherans will say that infants have faith. Of course they have to define faith in a magical way, the way that Calvinists who claimed to have been saved as Arminians do–faith as an experience without an object/content.
    3. Westminster Presbyterian guys will says that the water has efficacy, but not necessarily at the time of baptism, so that it kicks in after a time gap. I like to ask them: effective to do what, effects what? “Means of grace” means what?
    4. Dutch Reformed (Protestant Reformed, Kuyper, Hoekema)-presumptive regeneration, knowing that not all infants are elect, but assuming in charity that they are.
    5. Federal vision folks tend to stress that their infants have faith before baptism. I mean, didn’t John the Baptist jump in his mom’s womb?
    6. And then there is Zwingli, who I like the best, who is most consistent, who says that since circumcision had nothing to do with faith, then infant baptism has nothing to do with faith, but it’s a matter of politics, not letting the church and state get divided up into sects, not separating true Christians from one another.
    Also part of this is that you can get cut off and cursed from the covenant that baptism puts you in. Meredith Kline sounds a little like Zwingli, at least in the judgment emphasis. As in, it must be a “sacrament”, because what else can get even a true Christian killed if they do it wrong?
    Of course, most paedobaptists don’t like Zwingli, and they want sacraments to be “partaking of the divine nature”. Without saying “infusion”, they do point to water as not only sign but seal.
    Seal was for Abraham, who was justified, and then circumcised after faith. But no seal for infants.

    These days I am agreeing with Zahl who says this about ecclesiology:

    Paul Zahl, Grace in Practice—To say we have no
    ecclesiology is not just a negation. To have no ecclesiology is to
    have an ecclesiology. What sort of ecclesiology is this? It puts first
    things first. It puts Christ over the church. It puts what Christ
    taught and said over the church. It puts grace over the church. It
    puts Christ’s saving work over the church. It puts the human hope of
    change over the church. It places the Holy Spirit over the church. (p.
    227).

    https://derevth.blogspot.com/2013/07/paul-zahls-unecclesiology.html

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  139. Ali,

    Define what practicing righteousness means. Do you think you are sick or do you think you are righteous? We are all under moral obligation to obey the Law of God. Fortunately, we don’t have the ability to do it. If we did have the ability we would all be in deep trouble without the work of Christ. And those who are not elect and without faith in the Gospel are in deep trouble.

    13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. 15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

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  140. John Y:

    Thanks for the interactions. I want to spend some time on one of your posts above, but need more time for it.

    Meanwhile, a friendly correction:

    JY: 3. Westminster Presbyterian guys will says that the water has efficacy, but not necessarily at the time of baptism, so that it kicks in after a time gap. I like to ask them: effective to do what, effects what? “Means of grace” means what?

    This is not an accurate depiction. The water itself does nothing.

    “Means of grace” means that those means (word, sacrament, prayer) are the actions that God has given to the church in order to strengthen the faith of His people. The action is tied to a work of the Spirit in this specific way: When the action is undertaken by faith, God promises to work.

    Hence: When we pray in faith, our faith is strengthened; God promises to listen (Matt 7.7-12); He promises to cleanse from unrighteousness (1 John 1.9); He promises to heal those who are sick, in accordance with His will (James 5.13 – 16). The outward action participates in the promise that God listens to his children.

    When we partake of the Lord’s Supper by faith, we feed on Christ by faith. The outward action participates in the sign given to the church, that Christ gives His body and blood as food.

    And when we are baptized (no matter the age), the outward action participates in the sign given to the church, that the Spirit washes us from sin. When that promise is believed, the washing takes place.

    So to be clear: At no time does the water do anything for any recipient of baptism except to convey God’s promise to our senses. At all times, faith is the actual instrument of receiving that promise. If faith occurs before baptism, then baptism is effectual prior to administration. If faith occurs at baptism (rare), then baptism is effectual at that moment. If faith occurs after baptism, then baptism is effectual after administration.

    So the obvious question: If faith does the heavy lifting, why is baptism effectual?

    Because baptism is the message, and faith is our reception of that message. Baptism is effectual in the same way that the preached gospel is effectual: It provides the content of our faith. In the case of baptism, that content is that God cleanses us from sin.

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  141. Robert, your comparison/contrasting of western and Islamic nations is quite loaded and selective. It’s just as easy to point out the corruptions of the west and declare Islamic cultures superior: Families are more intact in Islamic nations than in western ones (thanks, Islam). It’s also easy to point to the Crusades and claim Christianity is toxic. If you aren’t convinced then you may begin to see what it’s like to listen to claims that Christianity makes all things better, even if slowly. Nobody is saying “religion has nothing to do with society.” The point is that it’s a mixed bag. Islamic nations can just as easily connect Islam to superior cultural phenomenon and Christianity as toxic and westerners do the other way around. It would seem to some Calvinists that whatever else Christianity teaches it isn’t that all human beings need is the right religion to make the world an improved place. It teaches that such an idea is pure folly because even the true religion depends on totally depraved sinners. Doh!

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  142. John Yeazel says: Ali, Define what practicing righteousness means. Do you think you are sick or do you think you are righteous?

    Hi John, I think we may have been here before. So, I’ll just say you should decide for yourself what you are supposed to be doing here on earth by His word and Spirit, because the Lord will be asking you all about it, and it sounds like you have given it quite a bit of thought.

    I’m glad you are such a reader as you list above. I’d also suggest being a studier of God’s word and foremost, ‘cause that’s a primary means for God’s work in you, though I’m sure Paul Zahl’s personal opinions are interesting to you.
    It’s just that one ought always prefer Jesus’s opinion, and definitely reject anything contradicting Him. He’s the King.

    Sick in my sinful nature? Why do you think I am so grateful to be a new creation, by the work and power of God. Not only do I get to live forever with Jesus, I am being conformed to His image, by the work and power of God, who is at work in me, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.(Phil 2:13)
    And a reason I join in here,eg: Psalm 103: 1 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; 3 Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases;4 Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; 5 Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle. 22 Bless the LORD, all you works of His, In all places of His dominion; Bless the LORD, O my soul

    I think if you are always prone to cut off or reject conversation about how believers ought live, you might be one the Lord meant here: But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.(Heb 5:14).
    Or here: I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly, walking like mere men? 1 Cor 3:2-3)
    Editing or rejecting of Jesus – unbelief in a word – seems to be a deception some enjoy, perhaps in order not to feel convicted about willful disobedience?

    PS your linked article above – I agree with a commenter there:
    “this as uncritical at best, theologically dangerous at worst. Of course Zahl has an ecclesiology (as he seems to acknowledge); “non-ecclesiology” is thus a gimmick, a sort of sloganistic double-speak to accomplish a particular goal — though it really isn’t true. What, then, may be the dangers of eschewing ecclesiology? The suggestion here seems to be that this locus may be ripped out of systematic theology without doing any harm at all. It is an appendix, a “caboose,” which depends upon everything that goes before it but which in turn affects and influences no other doctrine. I find this naive and incredibly individualistic.”

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  143. We’ve been doing this for almost three years Steve and there is still a major lack of communication happening. That is inherent in this type medium anyway, but in our case it seems to be more pronounced even than usual. Rather than continuing on this path, I offered to give you the opportunity to do it face to face, thus eliminating the limits of onscreen dialog. It will cost neither of us a thing except for far less time than it’s taking here.

    If you would have told me to get lost, I would have left it at that. However, since you used the word “sure”, I shouldn’t have to beg. If you are now backing out, then just say so and that will be the end of it. I mean you absolutely NO ill whatsoever. You have my word.

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  144. Greg, for a guy so puritanical you’re sure getting rape-y. I still prefer a public place to meet you. Deal with it. “Three’s Company” always suggested cold showers were helpful.

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  145. Ali, it sounds to me like you are going to give your resume to Jesus at the final judgment. I’m pleading the blood, the cross and the imputed righteousness.

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  146. Zrim says: “Greg, for a guy so puritanical you’re sure getting rape-y. I still prefer a public place to meet you. Deal with it. “Three’s Company” always suggested cold showers were helpful.”

    Then why didn’t just say that in the first place? Also, are you trying to tell me that you’re afraid of me over the internet? Seriously? What do you think, I have some superpower that allows me to assault and batter people through a computer monitor? As if that could ever in a million years cross my mind even in person? Of course I can’t read your mind Steve, but I don’t believe that’s the real reason.

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  147. johnyeazel says: Ali, it sounds to me like you are going to give your resume to Jesus at the final judgment. I’m pleading the blood, the cross and the imputed righteousness.

    John, I know you would like to continue to provide ‘edgy’ links here if requested, eg and etc, conviction-free, ’cause what can one really do about it ,and Jesus doesn’t really mind anyway.

    Salvation is deliverance from the penalty, the power, and the presence of sin. God’s work.
    May it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. (Gal 6:14-16)

    In order to achieve final salvation, sanctification is as necessary as justification. —Sinclair Ferguson
    http://www.challies.com/a-la-carte/a-la-carte-december-27-2

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  148. Ali, new creation is being placed into a new legal state- from in Adam to in Christ. That verse is not talking about sanctification. Nor is Romans 6 talking about sanctification. The reasons the arguments continue with no real solution regarding justification and sanctification is because when the confessions were drafted there was still great controversy going on regarding those issues. So round and round and round they go.

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  149. Being created “UNTO GOOD WORKS, which hath prepared beforehand that we should WALK in them” is far more than positional sanctification John and the confession hits it exactly on the biblical head.

    Being given the mind of Christ and being renewed in the INNER man are a couple other (among many) examples that demonstrate that anybody claiming Christ with no change in their heart and behavior is a liar and the truth is not in them. Man, we’ve been over this a thousand times.

    No outward change means no positional change. The latter ALWAYS results (see that ? RESULTS) in the former. The denial of this IS to embrace dualistic antinomianism. (Somebody get Sean an oxygen mask please)

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  150. Hi there John Yeazel,

    Today I am doing my old habit of visiting OLTS, and read your comments to Ali( Hi Ali!). I noticed that you recognise that different theological schools hold differing ideas about what constitutes ‘the gospel”, and that the definition doesn’t seem settled( “no real solution”; “So round and round and round they go”).
    I never found Reformed soteriology logical or comforting because I knew there was another view out there in other theological schools, and because I wondered about my actual standing and friendship with God). Reformed soteriology teaches that a person is declared righteous( imputed) when he possess faith, yet when he sins( I was aware of actual sins that stood out in high relief from a basal “abiding sin”), he shouldn’t worry about his sanctification. However, I realised that any new ( or repeated)actual sin made me guilty( of that particular sin…..and Paul does delineate them for a reason) all over again and instead of looking to my justification, a thing I couldn’t be certain of because of my questionable sanctification, I instead remembered God’s mercy and confessed my sin( again). In other words, I looked to Jesus to forgive me for the umpteenth time, just like I did the first time when I was initially justified.

    I can’t be sticking around but I wanted to leave you something to read if you ever get curious like I did:)

    http://principiumunitatis.blogspot.com/2009/02/gospel-and-paradox-of-glory.html

    Merry Christmas!

    Susan

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  151. Dgh, did you stick Susan on me? They are going to be inviting me to called to communion soon. She must not have read my other posts. Greg, walk in them and change in the inner man say nothing of behavior. Any bit of obedience is rooted in gratitude not ontological change of being. Plus I have never denied that inward changes occur. I just don’t think the scriptures are clear on what that exactly is. Anything done inside of us was not ad important to Paul. Boasting only in the cross of Christ and not focusing on inward change is the priority. The danger lies in still seeking to establish your own righteousness and then saying that is not what u r doing.

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  152. Susan, how comfortable are you with Roman Catholic soteriology when all you get at best is purgatory? Explain the deal you made. Did you buy a time share for your time in between?

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  153. Human nature can’t save itself, so there is no such thing as a human righteousness that accomplishes. Christ came to save sinners by giving us grace that actually, truly raises us, the inner man.

    CCC- “The Gospel is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners.113 The angel announced to Joseph: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”114 The same is true of the Eucharist, the sacrament of redemption: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”115

    1847 “God created us without us: but he did not will to save us without us.”116 To receive his mercy, we must admit our faults. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”117

    1848 As St. Paul affirms, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”118 But to do its work grace must uncover sin so as to convert our hearts and bestow on us “righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”119 Like a physician who probes the wound before treating it, God, by his Word and by his Spirit, casts a living light on sin:

    Conversion requires convincing of sin; it includes the interior judgment of conscience, and this, being a proof of the action of the Spirit of truth in man’s inmost being, becomes at the same time the start of a new grant of grace and love: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Thus in this “convincing concerning sin” we discover a double gift: the gift of the truth of conscience and the gift of the certainty of redemption. The Spirit of truth is the Consoler.120″

    2 Peter 1

    btw, thanks for being so cordial

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  154. “PURGATORY may exist whether he likes it or not…..It may be obvious to us that [a person] is already utterly sinless, at one with the saints. It may be evident to us that [he] is already utterly selfless, filled only with God and forgetful of the very meaning of gain. But if the cosmic power holds that there are still some strange finishing touches, beyond our fancy, to put to his perfection, then certainly there will be some cosmic provision for that mysterious completion of the seemingly complete. The stars are not clean in His sight and His angels He chargeth with folly; and if [God] should decide….there is room for improvement, we can but admit that omniscience can heal the defect that we cannot even see.”

    ~G.K. Chesterton: G.K’s Weekly, April 11, 1925.

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  155. johnyeazel says: Ali, new creation is being placed into a new legal state

    Legal state John? Isn’t it actual state?
    Quit trying to be self-righteous and/or take credit for something!
    Jesus: apart from Me you can do nothing.

    those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.

    that actual state =born again..of imperishable seed… His abiding seed in us….. by the Spirit whom He has given us…. sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise who is given as a pledge of our inheritance;
    He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

    And btw, John, do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
    And btw 2, John, hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

    ps. hi to you too, Susan. Good to ‘see’ you again.

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  156. Johnny says: “…Boasting only in the cross of Christ and not focusing on inward change …”

    You can’t have either without the other. This is so crystal clear in scripture that having to defend it to Calvinists is mind boggling. All of the reformed standards affirm it.

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  157. For the record John and for what it’s worth, and I might be wrong, I sense that your motivation is more honest in this than most people who hold this forensic only view. I don’t think you are trying to justify sin. I think you are trying to assuage a wounded conscience. There’s a huge difference and I am sympathetic to your circumstance if I’m right. (which I’m pretty sure I am)

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  158. Just to be clear, I’m arguing for pushing further away from the Roman Catholic Church. I think that is pretty obvious. All this infusion and sacrament arguing is leftovers from the Reformation that never was really resolved.

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  159. Accusations of antinomianism against those of us who give priority to imputation do not prove the reality of our being against the law. To say that only Christ could or has satisfied the law is to properly fear God. Neonomians turn out to be antinomians. To think that one can produce “sanctification” synergsitically by something extra infused (then indwelling) into us in addition to what God has done in Christ is to not yet fear God as the Holy One who demands perfection.

    Many experimental puritans put themselves on a superior level to the rest of us because of what they think they have been enabled to do and because of the righteousness they think they can and will now produce.

    “A man knows no more of righteousness than he hath power to act”–Gerrard Winstanley.

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  160. Dear Mr. accusation ..er… I mean John, please stop with your own accusations. 🙂

    And happy new year. 🙂

    And believe and receive Jesus. 🙂
    For as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13

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  161. The belief that a man can be born again from death in Adam to new life in Christ without readily visible change is a false heretical gospel John. One which every page of scripture cries out against. Put whatever label you like on it.

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  162. Without agreeing at all that regeneration is more real or “actual” than justification, and also without confirming that the word “creation” assumes a “non-forensic” context, it must be said that the future of regeneration is glorification at Christ’s second coming
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/may-web-only/real-transformation-happens-when.html

    Greg Beale—it would be better to view the linen as indicating a transformed life of good works ( not perfection) is not only ‘the proper response’ to justification but a necessary external badge required before entrance to the wedding of the Lamb is granted. Theologically, this would mean that justification is the causal necessary condition for entrance into the eternal kingdom, but good works are a noncausal necessary condition. In this regard, cf. also Romans. 2:6

    Beale– Receiving white clothes elsewhere in the Apocalypse precisely conveys the idea of purity resulting from a test of persevering faith). Therefore, the white clothes here should be equated not with the ‘righteous deeds’ of perseverance, but with the reward or result of such deeds…The white robes, then, might represent two inextricably related realities: (1) human faithfulness and good works (as a necessary evidence of right standing with God) and (2) vindication or acquittal accomplished by God’s judgments against the enemy on behalf of his people… The context and usage of dikaoma support a meaning of ‘vindication’ or ‘acquittal’ resulting from divine judgments on behalf of the saints… Nevertheless, that Revelation. 19:8 also envisions ‘righteous acts by the saints’ must not be lost sight of”

    “John Fesko–“The righteous deeds of the saints originate with God, not with the believer. The deeds are given to the saints is evident in both Isaiah 61:10 and Revelation 19:8. When we correlate these data with Revelation 20:11-15 and the book of life of the Lamb that was slain (Rev. 20:12; 13:8), what emerges is that it is the obedience of Christ that is imputed that is the ground of judgment for the believer. We see the same wedding-garment imagery connected with the work of Christ in Paul [Ephesians. 5:25-27 The bride of Christ, then, is clothed in righteousness which by imputation is the righteous deeds of the saints” (327, Justification)

    Revelation 22: 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes in order that they have the right to the tree of life

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  163. Proverbs 15:8 “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD”

    Romans 6:20 ”For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those thing is death”

    Romans 7:4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we now bear FRUIT FOR GOD. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear FRUIT FOR DEATH.”

    Luke 16:15 That which is highly esteemed among humans is abomination in the sight of God.

    Being set apart by God for God is not the same thing as being “moral”. Morality is not “sanctification” because those who are not yet justified before God by Christ’s death are not yet sanctified, not by the blood and not by the Holy Spirit.

    The Bible teaches a distinction between “dead works” (works done with unacceptable motives, like gaining assurance) and “fruit unto God” (works that are pleasing to God without being motivated to gain blessings for ourselves)

    Our justification is not by our works, not even by our works after faith and justification. If we are already justified, then it’s too late for us to be justified by works. If we think we will lose our justification if we don’t work, then we do not yet understand what God’s justification is. http://upper-register.typepad.com/blog/2013/02/christ-is-the-end-of-the-law-for-righteousness-rom-104-pt-3.html

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  164. Many “Reformed people seem to still think that what is going on here and now in their own hearts is much more “real and actual” than what God did in Christ’s death and resurrection. Some of these Reformed folks pay confessional lip-service to “imputation”, but their most basic hope is the sacramental presence of Christ the “person” and think that’s more important than any dull “algorithm” about imputation. As in, we don’t look in the hearts of those who attend the means of grace, but we do find ourselves “relevant” when it comes to our own “sanctification”. To them, the “Lordship of Christ” means “sanctification” by works, so they think they have an “opportunity” to succeed or fail (and thus to be rewarded or punished).

    “Real Union with Christ has Priority over the Legal—: “When the preponderance of my thoughts about my daily life with God are only seen from the perspective of Christ’s substitution and my unworthiness to merit his favor, not only do I miss the joy and motivation of knowing my deeds today can actually please God, but I can be left with a distant, abstract, academic view of my relationship with him.”

    mcmark– Like the Galatian false teachers, the union has priority over the legal network does not deny justification by imputation. But it does minimize justification as only one “perspective” or corollary. Notice the emphasis on “my thoughts”. No longer is the question about what “sanctification by election ” means. Nor does the network make biblical distinctions between sanctification by Christ’s blood and sanctification by Christ’s Spirit. http://www.reformation21.org/articles/union-with-christ-and-sanctification.php

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  165. The whole Christianity today article wasn’t made available, so couldn’t read it; not sure why would you reference that particular article anyway, Mark….. Avoid such men as these.

    2 Timothy 3 (NASB) “Difficult Times Will Come”
    1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9 But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.
    10 Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

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  166. McMark says: “…Without agreeing at all that regeneration is more real or “actual” than justification, and also without confirming that the word “creation” assumes a “non-forensic” context,…”

    I disagree entirely with any notion that makes any aspect of the gospel more real than any other, and being re-created in Christ is both dependent upon and the universally present accompaniment of forensic justification.

    I / WE are not the ones chopping up God’s work in salvation. You are, by a fatally flawed and mortally imbalanced almost exclusive emphasis upon the forensic component of the new covenant. You really should stop that.

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  167. …rather than about the “in” — in the sense of how “in” I feel (to myself) or how “in” I look (to you), or how I stack up to Puritan X’s list/test/five sections plus subheads and notes thing.

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  168. I am not aware that John Y. is antinomian. I can’t speak with authority, not knowing him well, but I can say that nothing he has said has led me to believe that

    (a) He disbelieves that we are sanctified
    (b) He disbelieves that sanctification is necessary
    (c) He disbelieves that Christians should obey the law.

    If anyone has cause to believe those things about John, let him show such cause or else knock it off.

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  169. @ Greg: Forensic priority does not mean forensic-only.

    See William Perkins for a good historical forensic priority view that is also very strong on resisting the temptations of sin.

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  170. Ali,

    Do you agree with Beale or Fesko in the interpretation of that Revelation passage you accused me with? Do you consider yourself Reformed? MacAurthor is not Reformed. I’m not a free- willer so I don’t have the ability to receive Jesus without the righteousness imputed as the cause. My assurance lies in the finished work of Christ, not in my imperfect training and practice of righteousness. I don’t know how you ever relax, Ali. You’re full of contradictions in your posts too. I could go back and shift them out if you want me too. I guess you and Greg better avoid me. I’m still not sure you know how to distinguish between the Law and the Gospel in the Scriptures and their purpose in the training and knowledge in the growth in grace.

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  171. Hi John,

    I wanted to respond to your earlier comments. I hear your struggle with coordinating the life of a Christian under grace with the notion of fulfilling the Law. It was that same struggle that erupted in 1989 for me that led me to, ultimately, become Presbyterian in 1994.

    A couple of thoughts.

    (1) The phrase “spiritual journey” is way over-used. But it is true that the Spirit leads us in small steps and in non-straight paths at times. So it is entirely possible for someone to change views, and change views yet again. The Scripture is invariantly true; our views, not so much.

    So while I am convinced of the truth of Reformed theology, and of “some kind of 2K”, I am more convinced of the truth of the Scripture than even that. And I would encourage you to join me in upholding the priority of those convictions!

    (2) The appeal of “hyper-Cal” is understandable. It removes from the equation any possibility of our salvation being contingent upon our efforts.

    That said, the system is no proof against legalism. The reason is simple: legalism is a condition of the heart. Sound doctrine can shape the heart and point it in the right direction, but the muck underneath is capable of twisting even truth into falsehood.

    So it was with a church that I had familial connection to: A strong repudiation of man’s effectual agency, even so far as denying the necessity of evangelism or missions work. “Those whom God calls will come!” As a result, family members of mine failed to hear the gospel preached, and were instead directed to try to discern whether they were elect or not.

    The legalism came in through the door of culture and theological warring. The church was conceived as an island of true doctrine in a sea of false teaching from the world and from other churches, with whom they refused fellowship.

    I say all that NOT as a repudiation of Hyper-Cal, but as a caution: the system isn’t fool-proof, because we are by nature excellent fools.

    (3) “Fulfilling the Law” is a legitimately Biblical phrase. Consider Paul:

    Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. — Rom 13.8 – 10.

    For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” … Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. — Gal 5, 6

    and James:

    If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it — Jas. 2.8 – 10

    But in what sense “fulfilling”? What the word definitely does not mean is that we completely satisfy the requirements that the Law exacts, whether through our own efforts or through grace-enabled efforts. Down that road lies madness (through recognition of inability) or self-deception (through lowering of the Law’s requirements).

    It is clear that both Paul and James are encouraging, strongly, that believers love one another and thereby seek to do what the Law says. At the same time, it is clear that both Paul and James are pessimistic about believers’ abilities to keep the demands of the Law.

    The puzzle is resolved thus:

    For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. — Rom 8.3 – 10.

    God offers a two-fold or two-part solution: First, condemning our sin in the flesh of Christ: imputation. Second, and flowing from that, giving the Spirit who wars against the flesh: infusion.

    The actual fulfilling of the Law, the meeting of its requirements, takes place forensically. The natural outflow of that fact is thus that we walk according to the Spirit.

    Our actions of love toward one another “fulfill the Law” not in that they actually meet God’s full requirements, but in that they are viewed through the lens of Christ’s righteousness. Thus the Confession (19.2 – 5): Good works are in obedience to God’s command, yet our performance falls short, and God’s pleasure in them is only by accepting those good works in Christ.

    So let me encourage you to embrace the notion of fulfilling the Law — not in the sense of performing it to the necessary standard (Christ did that!), but in the sense of loving your neighbor, very imperfectly.

    (4) Really skeptical of a “non-ecclesiology.” My basic metaphor for church is a marriage relationship, and anyone who comes out talking of “non-ecclesiologies” sounds like a guy asking for an open marriage.

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  172. I was given the book Pearl of Christian Comfort by Petrus Dathenus as a well meaning gift many years ago. It was meant to help my angst over this Law and Gospel distinction in Reformed theology. So, I believe that John has raised a good point.
    Would anyone( Jeff 🙂 ) mind weighing in on what part of Romans is speaking of the Jewish ceremonial law and how to know the difference when reading the first few chapters of Romans through a Reformed presuppositional lens versus any earlier reading of this same passages of Romans? Maybe Greg the Terrible wouldn’t mind addressing this too? Also,can anyone explain how if one believes that the moral or ethical law has not been abrogated, but at the same time think that even Christians, who are supposed to be holy and blameless, are no longer under the righteous requirements and will not be judged, is not an antinomian stance?

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  173. Susan: Would anyone mind weighing in on what part of Romans is speaking of the Jewish ceremonial law and how to know the difference when reading the first few chapters of Romans through a Reformed presuppositional lens versus any earlier reading of this same passages of Romans?

    I know that many Catholic interpreters refer the mentions of Law in Rom 1 – 4 or 1 – 6 to the ceremonial Law, and a couple of Catholic interpreters do not (Sungenis, maybe? Been a while, and not at home right now).

    For my part, I think it is impossible to understand Paul as speaking of the ceremonial Law alone in any part of Romans.

    Reasons:

    (1) When Paul speaks of breaking the Law in Romans 2, he makes no mention of breaking ceremonies, but of specifically breaking the 10 commandments: But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.

    It is the breaking of the moral law, not the ceremonial, that brings condemnation and that makes “circumcision into uncircumcision.”

    Or to quote my pastor in regard to Galatians 3, “The curse of the Law is not God’s wrath against eaters of shellfish!”

    (2) It is therefore in that same context that we must understand the phrase For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

    God’s requirement for justification is the full, from the heart, keeping of the decalogue — which we understand (and Catholics agree) to be summed up in the commands to love God and love neighbor.

    (3) The foregoing is then the context for chapter 3:

    Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

    There is no textual reason whatsoever to read “works of the law” as “keeping of ceremonies”; from chapter 2, it is clear that works of the law refers to fulfilling the commands taught such as “do not steal” and “do not commit adultery.” Further, the law that brings the knowledge of sin is not the ceremonies (which provided symbolic remedy for sin), but the moral law.

    (3a) And historically, no Jewish sect that I am aware of taught that “keeping the Law” meant “keeping the ceremonies.” Pharisee and Sadducee and Essene all agreed that the heart of the Law was the “Ten Words” — the moral law.

    (4) Which brings us to the important passage Rom 3.21-31, that we are “justified apart from works of the Law.” (χωρὶς ἔργων νόμου). In what sense “works of the Law”? As we have seen in ch 2 – 3, the works of the Law are literally the doing of the Law.

    In what sense “apart from” (lit.: “without”)?

    It is a clear and easy read: We are justified without performing works of the Law.

    This reading is then consistent with the two examples in chapter 4. Abraham was justified when he believed in the promises of God. David was justified in that he was forgiven of his sin, and specifically the sins of adultery and murder — not the breaking of ceremonies!

    So there is no reason to think that ceremonies are in view in Romans, and every reason to think that Paul is going straight to the heart of the matter: The Law condemns, because it requires us to love God with heart, soul, mind, strength; and to love neighbor as self. This, we do not do; ergo, we are condemned.

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  174. Can the grace of God be apparent in the lives of the redeemed so that God gets the glory?

    I started my journey in evangelical communities and witnessed a lot of strange things and confused doctrines. Ecclesial wise there simply was no church to demand my assent to forensic justification. I would have gladly assented if it was true and revealed, but there was no way to know that God had spoken thus. The ecclesial body prior the Reformation didn’t teach it, so it was, in my mind, not certain. Early on, God gave me the passage from Jeremiah 6:16; I had no idea then that I’d be walked back and back until I was in the Church that Jesus founded.
    http://www.ewtn.com/library/CHRIST/FTHRT.txt

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  175. Susan: Also,can anyone explain how if one believes that the moral or ethical law has not been abrogated, but at the same time think that even Christians, who are supposed to be holy and blameless, are no longer under the righteous requirements and will not be judged, is not an antinomian stance?

    Every human law contains two parts: The statutory language defining what is or is not a violation; and the penalty for breaking that law.

    When Christians say that the moral law has not been abrogated, we mean

    (1) The statuatory language remains unchanged. Murder now, like murder then, is still wrong because it is contrary to God’s will.

    (2) The penalty remains unchanged: Law-breakers are subject to the wrath due to law-breakers.

    When Christians say that we are no longer under the law, we mean

    (3) The penalty for our wrongdoing falls upon Christ because God reckons him as a transgressor for our sakes (Is 53.4 – 6).

    So why is this not antinomian?

    Turn it around: Why should it be antinomian? The only reason that one would call it antinomian is if one believes that the penalty for our sins must fall on us instead of Christ. In that case, it is hard to see how such a one is even Christian!

    But in reality, many portray the Christian view as antinomian because they wrongly infer additional beliefs:

    (*4) Some wrongly view Christians as saying that “because the penalty falls upon Christ, therefore the requirements have been nullified.” This would be antinomian by arguing that the moral Law is no longer in effect.

    Christians neither say nor believe this, wrt the moral law. The ceremonies of course have been “nullified” in the sense of being fulfilled; and the judicial law is nullified in that its object, the theocracy of Israel, is no more.

    (*5) Others wrongly view Christians as saying that “because the penalty falls upon Christ, we may safely ignore the requirements of the Law.”

    Christians neither say nor believe this, either. Rather, we say that our relationship to the Law has changed. Whereas, prior to faith, we were under the Law in the sense of obligated to fulfill and subject to penalty, now we are not under the Law in the sense of obligated to fulfill, and fulfilling out of gratitude and love.

    The false assumption that animates both (*4) and (*5) is the assumption that without penalty, there is no obligation. Get rid of that assumption, and the charge of “antinomianism” evaporates.

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  176. When I say “dualistic antinomianism” what I mean is the belief that forensic justification stands alone and has no necessary effect upon the instincts, intuitions, attitudes and actions of the one so justified. An invisible/spiritual state set against an earthly life in this flesh and neither kingdom ventures into the other. One’s attitude toward the moral law of God can remain unchanged from BC to AD, save for maybe a verbal acquiescence to it’s overall rightness.

    One’s plain answer to this question:

    __________ is forensic/positional justification always accompanied by changed instincts and intuitions that those around you can see in changed attitudes and actions?”

    :instantly reveals whether one is vulnerable to this charge or no.

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  177. @ Greg: Why the emphasis on “those around you can see”?

    The Scripture tells us that because we are justified, God places his Spirit in us who wars against the flesh.

    Does the Scripture tell us that others will see the work of the Spirit? If so, who? (Wife, mother-in-law, obnoxious co-worker?) How often? Can I see that they see? I’m really not comfortable with making the perceptions of others the touchstone of the handiwork of God.

    Part of the larger picture here is that Reformed folk are currently divided amongst themselves about whether it is legitimate to say that justification has priority over sanctification (see, Rick Philips, linked above). Those who want sanctification and justification to be two utterly distinct benefits, with sanctification not flowing out of justification, find comfort in your line of questioning because it proceeds by mushing together those who want justification to have priority (a classic Reformed view) and those who want justification to be alone (a classic antinomian view).

    In other words, there’s politics in the air. And politics doesn’t always play fair.

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  178. Greg, do you really want to include instincts and (especially) intuitions? Attitudes and actions (in part, imperfectly) — sure. But the other two? Your experientialism is showing. You may be a quasi-charismatic and not even know it!

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  179. Susan, “I started my journey in evangelical communities and witnessed a lot of strange things and confused doctrines.”

    And now you’re sojourning among Roman Catholics and witness a lot of strange things and confused doctrines.

    What have you gained?

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  180. Election
    Redemption
    Calling
    Justification
    Propitiation
    Regeneration
    Sanctification (both kinds, positional can go up with justification))
    Glorification

    We can quibble over the precise order here and there, but these come as a package. You get them all or you get none.

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  181. Chortles asks: “Greg, do you really want to include instincts and (especially) intuitions? Attitudes and actions (in part, imperfectly) — sure. But the other two?

    Attitudes and actions flow from instincts and intuitions. Like my list above, it’s all or nothing. All of these are redeemed in Christ, though through remaining corruption, are in this life only imperfectly walked in. (just like the standards have said for hundreds of years)

    All of this is all of Him. All of His merciful, loving, wondrous electing grace. He prepared it beforehand that we should walk in it.There’s no way you don’t get this.

    “Your experientialism is showing.”
    Could you point me to a single saint in scripture, either testament, who had no experience with God?

    Romans 8: 15-For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16-The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, …

    Paul write this before there were even the first attempts at a canon of new covenant scripture, to say nothing of in the hands of a literate laity (no, that is not even vaguely Roman Catholic)

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  182. Sean pounces: “Greg, the precise order is no mere quibble. There’s even a confessional ordering highlighting the phenomenology of salvation: guilt, grace, gratitude. If you want to flatten the duplex gratia, go be an RC”

    So where is my order wrong Sean? I said nothing about flattening anything. Would you be so good as to address something I’m actually saying or asking?

    How bout this?

    Is forensic/positional justification always accompanied by changed instincts and intuitions that those around you can see in changed attitudes and actions?”

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  183. Greg, how about if our attitudes and actions proceed forth from training(catechism) instead of instincts and intuition, in fact, going contrary to the innate, PARTICULARLY when it comes to religion. I could swear I read somewhere about discipleship being the paradigm.

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  184. Sean did you really think that I was saying that there is a mystical infusion of instant subjective spiritual maturity the moment one is justified? Really?

    Of course this happens over time as one, yes, attends to the means of grace, both public and private, with both being necessary and vital to the spiritual maturation and health of the growing disciple.

    A person who claims to love Jesus, but not His word and not spending time with Him and His people as the driving passions of their life, is a liar and self deluded. One WILL spend their time and money on what they REALLY love and it WILL show up in their life as the attitudes and actions they display. Because according to the incarnate second person of the Godhead, these flow from the heart and guess what’s in the heart. Instincts and intuitions.

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  185. The instincts and intuitions are formed by what the heart is fed. One will feed it what one loves and those loves will increase over time. Either in sin or righteousness. Only the Holy Spirit can produce in a child of Adam the proper God pleasing loves, but He ALWAYS does this in the elect once redeemed, though it is an uneven life long journey.

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  186. Greg, I’m glad I could help you land in a more solid place, but you need to remember the tension of abiding sin as you set off in your rhetorical flourishes and understand that the preeminent outward sign of regeneration is persevering(which includes the idea of contrary evidence-abiding sin) faith in Jesus. I could add that this persevering faith will ordinarily take the form of membership in a rightly ordered church(action). Hey, look at that, I did.

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  187. Oh, ok. So, nobody here is a dualistic antinomian or apostate or deluded. And you don’t want Obama or Trump deciding religious orthodoxy boundaries, so, we’re all 2ked up as well. Damn, it’s a good day. I’ve brought peace. Your welcome.

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  188. @ Greg: OK. Now imagine that someone comes along and says that the very concept of having an ordo is all wrong.

    Hence Evans, cited by Clark:

    It is here that a concrete soteriological approach is called for. In contrast to the abstractions of the ordo salutis framework, in which justification and sanctification are not “in Christ” but rather occur somehow “on the basis of what Christ did,” there is a need to reflect more deeply on the relationship of the person and work of Christ. Once again, the Pauline materials provide food for thought. R. B. Gaffin has argued that for St. Paul, all of the traditional loci of Reformed soteriology—justification, sanctification, adoption, and glorification—are comprehended in the experience of Christ as the resurrected Second Adam.7 Furthermore, the Pauline perspective here is that the redemptive experience of Christ is not only paradigmatic for the Christian, but also is constitutive of the believer’s experience (the believer will not merely be raised like Christ, but is is crucified and raised with and in Christ, Rom. 6:4-10; Eph 2:4-7). If these insights are to be utilized in Reformed dogmatics, then all of salvation is in a sense “participatory,” that is, a participation in the redemptive experience of Christ. All is to be found, as T. F. Torrance rightly suggests, in the “vicarious humanity of Christ.”

    A decisive break with the ordo salutis thinking that has vitiated Reformed thought since the early seventeenth century is clearly implied here. This historical record shows that as long as justification is viewed as taking place at a specific point in time (either in eternity or upon the exercise of faith) it is nearly impossible to find a meaningful relationship between justification and the economy of faith (the ongoing life of faith and obedience). Only when the traditional ordo salutis is eschewed can a truly forensic and synthetic doctrine of justification that is at the same time relational and dynamic be articulated.

    Note the points:

    (1) Ordo thinking has “vitiated” Reformed theology since the early 17th century (pre-Confession!). Perkins and Turretin and the Hodge boys were all pikers.
    (2) Ordo thinking, indeed temporal thinking at all, makes it impossible to relate justification to the life of faith. If you believe, for example, that one is justified at the moment of faith, you will find it impossible to relate justification to the life of faith.

    That’s what’s being argued against, my friend. Ordo is not a legitimate view, but a vitiating view; those who hold to any kind of ordo whatsoever cannot relate justification to a life of faith and obedience.

    Do you want to sign on? Argue that side?

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  189. I am not a huge ordo guy anyway. Its’ not that I reject the concept outright, but I have just not found it to be all that useful in the end.

    If it required ditching the ordo salutis in order to maintain the rest of what I’ve said, I’d make that trade.

    I only have a minute left here for now Jeff. Some stuff to do, but this is a good discussion.

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  190. I think it is a productive discussion.

    The usefulness of the ordo becomes clearer when its historical origins are recognized. The ordo notion developed out of a need to distinguish clearly RC and Protestant soteriology, and especially to vindicate Protestant soteriology against charges of … wait for it … antinomianism! From the RCs.

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  191. Jeff,

    Greg says that he not a big ordo guy anyways. How important is this to Reformed theology, to actual salvation of souls? This isn’t settled in Reformed theology I guess? Is there a final word from “the church” on this or not? So another issue not settled in the world of Protestantism to keep you perpetually divided among yourselves.

    It sounds like I get you guys upset when I discuss with you when all I’m really asking is for you to tell me why you don’t acknowledge that Catholic soteriology is the way Christianity has historically thought and that it’s reasonable, and as Dr. Cross says, “compatible with Scriptural data”.

    “St. Paul uses this instantaneous sense of the term ‘sanctified’ when he writes, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor 6:11) He is speaking there of the [instant] sanctification that takes place at the moment of washing (i.e. baptism), and by which we were [instantly] justified. Notice also there that sanctification precedes justification, suggesting that the justification is based on the [instant] sanctification. Similarly, in Romans 8:30 St. Paul writes, “and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Where is sanctification? How could someone be glorified without being sanctified? Did St. Paul forget to include sanctification? No. St. Paul has included it within justification. These brief considerations show that the Catholic position is at least compatible with the Scriptural data.”

    I’m linking the whole article once again and would appreciate any attempt of a thoughtful discussion about it. If you simply mock and make jokes, I will know that you have nothing of substance to offer. http://principiumunitatis.blogspot.com/2009/02/gospel-and-paradox-of-glory.html

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  192. Greg, take note of who is identifying with you soteriologically. Susan, I need the official, infallible RC commentaries on the old and new testaments and I need the definitive pastoral application of Vat II initiatives from you. Then you can talk to me about all the agreement and certainty you’ve found in the communion where I’ve forgotten more than you know. This is where you go all romantic and esoteric in response.

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  193. Sean, take note that the truth of a position is not compromised by who also affirms it. This is a form of agrumentum ad-hominem.

    The truth of a sum of 2 arising from the equation of 1+1, is not proven false because Adolf Hitler believed it.

    I am not in any way equating dear Susan with Adolf Hitler. However, she is not known for her strict RCC orthodoxy either. A thing the present pontiff is making quite fashionable I might add.

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  194. Hi Sean,

    We can zero in a bit on some particular doctrine if you want, and we can acknowledge together that while there might be a couple of schools of thought within Catholicism about it, there is at the same time dogma regarding it. No one is arguing that people protest but rather that there is a way to know who’s right. When you battle the church, you know what you’re arguing against, right. Whatever that is is the official, infallible thing.

    Greg, how am I not being orthodox? If I err, it is by accident and would be considered material heresy, but I am curious about what thing stands out in your mind where I am not with the Church?

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  195. Greg, I’m trying to relate with you on that trained instinct thing you’re big on combined with your being a take it or leave it ordo guy. You instinctively threw out your syncretic, flattened out duplex gratia and an RC perked up and said, ‘hey, that’s familiar and we do it better over here’. All sorts of intuiting and getting a sense of things going on here. You should be all at home.

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  196. Zrim,

    Robert, your comparison/contrasting of western and Islamic nations is quite loaded and selective.

    Not selective. Just what came to mind most readily. Pick your culture.

    It’s just as easy to point out the corruptions of the west and declare Islamic cultures superior: Families are more intact in Islamic nations than in western ones (thanks, Islam).

    In the West, the rise in widespread divorce has coincided with increased secularization. Kind of proves the point of those who lean transformationalist.

    It’s also easy to point to the Crusades and claim Christianity is toxic. If you aren’t convinced then you may begin to see what it’s like to listen to claims that Christianity makes all things better, even if slowly.

    I didn’t say Xty makes all things better, even if slowly. All I suggested was that its not inappropriate to attribute some of the good things in the West to Christian influence.

    Nobody is saying “religion has nothing to do with society.” The point is that it’s a mixed bag. Islamic nations can just as easily connect Islam to superior cultural phenomenon and Christianity as toxic and westerners do the other way around.

    Well, according to Islam, sure. According to Christianity, not so much. This gets to the point that Jeff made about the difficulty to evaluating things, a point that I concede. So let’s pick a standard. From a Christian perspective, it’s surely better that we don’t have honor killings. Now, what’s the reason why we don’t have honor killings? Seems like you don’t want to give religion any credit. Fine. But you can’t say for sure it isn’t. Why not be more agnostic and not overly hostile to anyone who gives a hint of transformationalism. The amount of hostility I sense from some of you who are all sold out on 2K is amazing. I’m not here to advocate anything like postmillennial transformation. I get the annoyance with the religious right. I don’t get swinging the pendulum so far the other way.

    It would seem to some Calvinists that whatever else Christianity teaches it isn’t that all human beings need is the right religion to make the world an improved place. It teaches that such an idea is pure folly because even the true religion depends on totally depraved sinners. Doh!

    I’d have to qualify this. Yes and no. But the world will ultimately be an improved place in the eschaton for those human beings who get the right religion. The question is how much does having the right religion improve things in the here and now. And last I checked, people are running to the West and not so much the other way around. But why are they running here? Is it because of the influence of the church on Western society? Is it because of some deists in 18th century England and America? Is it just dumb luck?

    If you want to say its a mixture and maybe certain Calvinists should back down on claiming that all good things come from Christian influence, that would make sense. What doesn’t make sense is “Yeah, people really want to come to the West, but no way, no how can we even suggest that it was the result of Christian influence on the West. Only dumb religious righters think that way.”

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  197. Susan: …when all I’m really asking is for you to tell me why you don’t acknowledge that Catholic soteriology is the way Christianity has historically thought and that it’s reasonable, and as Dr. Cross says, “compatible with Scriptural data”.

    I don’t acknowledge it because it’s untrue (sorry!).

    (1) Catholic soteriology was not taught by the early church.

    Neither penance, nor purgatory, nor indulgences were taught in the early church. Further, the church fathers as a whole took a much more forensic view and a stronger predestinarian stance on salvation than Catholics take today.

    Likewise, the doctrine of Christ’s merit — which Catholics and Protestants are fairly close on — was not taught by the early fathers.

    If you want a paleo-soteriology, you have to adopt Augustine’s predestinarian views, accept a “ransom” view of the atonement, and roll back penance to “once-and-done.” Eliminate purgatory and indulgences.

    Then we can talk about believing what the early church taught.

    (2) Catholic soteriology is not reasonable.

    It is unreasonable to read “justified by faith” as “justified by baptism, the sacrament of faith.”
    It is unreasonable to believe that Jesus’ human body and blood can be in multiple places at once, without partaking of the divine nature contrary to Chalcedon.
    It is unreasonable to believe that one obtains the merit of justification through fulfilling the Law of Christ, yet deny that these are “works of the Law.”
    It is unreasonable to believe that one can lose the grace of salvation, yet remain connected to the church by an indelible mark. It is unreasonable to believe that one can “merit grace.”
    It is unreasonable to believe that “there is no salvation outside the church”, but those who are outside the church can be saved.

    (3) Catholic soteriology is not compatible with the Scriptural data.

    The Catholic doctrine of free will is directly contrary to Eph 1. The doctrine of meriting grace is contrary to Paul’s teachings about justification apart from works of the Law. The view that one can lose one’s salvation is directly contrary to John 10 and Rom 8.

    I don’t mean to be brusque in the above, but you asked a direct question that was worthy of a direct answer.

    Peace,

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  198. Hi Jeff,

    Your (2) list is not unreasonable, once clarified with scripture and tradition. As far as purgatory, here are some references that might be of interest.
    https://protestant2catholic.com/catholic-bible-verses-early-church-fathers/purgatory-and-prayer-for-the-dead-in-bible-verse-and-early-church-fathers-writings/

    I don’t think I’m going to win you by loading you up with more readings, but at least you know that there was and is a tradition that got along well before the Reformation period and stll exists. I do hope you get a chance to read the essay and the article I linked.

    Peace to you as well,
    Susan

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  199. Romans 13: 10 “Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.”
    Hebrews 13:14 “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

    Ali says: December 28, 2016 at 3:09 pm– Legal state John? Isn’t it actual state?…. actual state =born again..of imperishable seed… His abiding seed in us

    Greg The Terrible says: December 29, 2016 at 10:26 am –I disagree entirely with any notion that makes any aspect of the gospel more real than any other…I / WE are not the ones chopping up God’s work in salvation. You are, by a fatally flawed and mortally imbalanced almost exclusive emphasis upon the forensic component of the new covenant. You really should stop that.

    Gospel Reformation Network Article IV – Union with Christ and Sanctification
    • We affirm that both justification and sanctification are distinct, necessary, inseparable and simultaneous graces of union with Christ though faith.
    • We deny that sanctification flows DIRECTLY from justification, or that the transformative elements of salvation are MERE consequences of the forensic elements.

    Mcmark– In this case, I think I stand with (Jeff Cagle and ) what Rick P calls the “standard Reformed preaching” . See Richard Muller, “The Golden Chain and the Causality of Salvation”, in Calvin and the Reformed Tradition. My questions.

    1. When folks like Greg (and Gaffin, Tipton, Evans and Rick P) divide “union” from justification and sanctification, how is that NOT an alternative “chopping up of salvation”

    2. Why is it a problem to deny that “sanctification” flows from justification, as long as “sanctification” results? Why must salvation be chopped up so that “union” comes first?

    3. By “chopping up”, Greg, do you mean defining the words that you use? Is the problem with “justification priority” that “justification” can be defined, but that you can use the word “sanctification” to mean both an either or but also moral progress? Is the problem that you want to use the word “union” as if the word only meant “Christ in us” and not at all “us in Christ”?

    4. If the “forensic aspect” of “union” just as “actual” as Christ by the Holy Spirit indwelling us aspect, why do you have to “chop up” the order so that the Holy Spirit gives us Christ before the Father imputes Christ’s death to us?

    5. If we don’t “stop” saying that the righteousness received by the elect is IMPUTED by God, will that mean you also agree that the order does matter but you disagree with us about the order?

    6. Do we receive faith by faith?

    7. If you also chop salvation so that you keeping insisting that “faith-union” is a result of faith, and if faith is a result of regeneration, can you tell us where faith and regeneration come from? Or does it matter, as long as we say that “faith comes from union”? No need to think about Christ’s death as having purchased faith? Since faith is “real and actual”, no need to think about the forensic source of faith?

    8. Is the problem with saying that “sanctification” results from “justification” the fact that we are either justified or we are not? Are we not also either “united to Christ” or not?

    9.When you deny that “sanctification” is a “mere consequence” of the forensic, did you mean to deny that “sanctification” is in any way forensic (set apart) or a consequence of the forensic”?

    10. What do you have against “merely” or any “sola” which always points first to Christ’s death accomplished?

    11. If “sanctification” is “more than” than a “mere consequence”, does that mean that “sanctification” is also more than a result of “union? Is “sanctification” in someway identical to “union”?

    12. If union is transformation, and union must come before justification, how is it that God ever justifies the ungodly?

    13. If becoming children of God does not mean legal adoption but means “actually” being born again so that we are freed from the power of corruption, what is the need for those who are no longer ungodly to be justified?

    Berkhof: “The mystical union in the sense in which we are now speaking of it is not the judicial ground, on the basis of which we become partakers of the riches that are in Christ. It is sometimes said that the merits of Christ cannot be imputed to us as long as we are not in Christ, since it is only on the basis of our oneness with Him that such an imputation could be reasonable. But this view fails to distinguish between our legal unity with Christ and our spiritual oneness with Him, and is a falsification of the fundamental element in the doctrine of redemption, namely, of the doctrine of justification.”–Systematic Theology, 452.

    http://heidelblog.net/2014/05/berkhof-on-the-necessity-of-good-works/

    Rick Phillips: when asked, Surely you don’t really disagree that sanctification begins with a deeper appreciation of our justification?

    Rick Phillips–Actually, I do disagree with this, as I would have thought you would know given that I am a WTS union-with-Christ guy. Sanctification does not begin with justification or an appreciation of it. Sanctification begins in the effectual call of Christ and its effect of regeneration within me.

    Rick Phillips—“Consider the symbolism of the book of Revelation, in which the redeemed are frequently shown dressed in radiant white. STANDARD REFORMED PREACHING would require that we see this as emphasizing imputed righteousness. The actual data of Revelation suggests otherwise, instead using this imagery primarily to depict the purity of lives that the believers lived. ..”They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments” (Rev. 3:4-5). This passage sternly resists all attempts to prioritize the doctrine of justification, despite the imagery normally associated with imputed righteousness.

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  200. Jeff, thanks for your clear answer to Susan. I agree with you that an affirmation of inability and depravity without a proclamation of the gospel is destructive to a church and to everything good.

    Jeff—A strong repudiation of man’s effectual agency, even so far as denying the necessity of evangelism or missions ….As a result, family members of mine failed to hear the gospel preached, and were instead directed to try to discern whether they were elect or not.

    Charles Hodge—One’s interpretation of Romans 8 verse 4 is determined by the view taken of Romans 8:3. If that verse means that God, by sending His Son, destroyed sin in us, then, of course, this verse must mean, “He destroyed sin in order that we should fulfill the law” — that is, so that we should be holy (sanctification). But if Romans 8:3 refers to the sacrificial death of Christ and to the condemnation of sin in Him as the sinners’ substitute, then this verse must refer to justification and not sanctification.”

    Calvin on Romans 8 4– “That the justification of the law be fulfilled, etc. They who understand that the renewed, by the Spirit of Christ, fulfill the law, introduce a gloss wholly alien to the meaning of Paul; for the faithful, while they sojourn in this world, never make such a proficiency, as that the justification of the law becomes in them full or complete. This then must be applied to forgiveness; for when the obedience of Christ is accepted for us, the law is satisfied, so that we are counted just.

    https://theworldsruined.blogspot.com/2014/09/romans-84-justification-or.html

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  201. Robert, you seem focused on honor killings proving something. Ok, neither the pagan Greeks or Romans had honor killings. Now what? Aristotle was the forerunner to Christ (instead of John the baptizer)?

    You also seem fundamentally convinced of western superiority, so I imagine whatever other culture is chosen will simply never stack up. Again, provisional judgment between cultures is one thing, attributing it to redeemed influence is quite another. And again, plenty of Christians have contributed to the modern west but it’s hardly obvious how that proves RIC. Plenty of pagans have as well, all of which helps make the case more for the effectiveness of general revelation than RIC. I’m not clear on how this is being “overly hostile” toward cultural transformationalism. It’s skepticism, the kind that also doubts highly that faith begets personal health and wealth. I suppose the televangelists consider the harrumph “overly hostile” nay-saying. Oh well. And if secularism is to blame for the foibles of the modern west, not only does that leave some wondering just how effective redeemed influence really is that it can’t keep secularism at bay, it also leaves the same wondering whatever happened to the doctrine of abiding sin, you know, that doctrine the transformers and semi-transformers keep assuring the hostile rrrrrrrrrr2kers isn’t forgotten in all the theorizing.

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  202. McMark, it’s like this. If you claim Christ and are no different than those who don’t, you’re a liar. Repent.

    I spent over an hour night before last with a 25 year old kid in Prague who has been a believer for barely 2 years and has very little face to face fellowship (Czech republic is an atheistic hole) and he gets this as a matter of regenerate instinct. Yes, he really does. It’s incredible listening to this practical infant in Christ (accent n all) display more godly sensibility and childlike love for Jesus than all the useless, jaded, world loving theologs over here.

    Of course he does read a lot of really old books that are easy to find online and the Lord has been faithful in leading this young man to exactly the right ones. His English is just good enough to grasp them.

    On and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on. None of this is this complicated. Dear Lord does your church ever need some purifying hardship and persecution in this country.

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  203. John Yeazel says: I guess you and Greg better avoid me.
    -yeah, possibly.

    John Yeasel says: I’m still not sure you know how to distinguish between the Law and the Gospel in the Scriptures and their purpose in the training and knowledge in the growth in grace.
    -Thanks for worrying about us. How about you figure it out for your own self – not with your opinions – but through the word of God, by the power of His Spirit. He doesn’t make it that difficult. Why would He.

    Salvation – Deliverance. From the penalty, power, presence of sin. Rejoice John.

    if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

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  204. D.G.,
    Where else can the Church learn to minister? If the Church only looks to itself, how does it know it is actually saying to people. When writing a computer program, one tests that programs by looking at the output for a given set of inputs to see if the program is working. Why would it be unbiblical for us to seek feedback from those with whom we share the Gospel?

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  205. Jeff, is in need of broken brokenness that would adequately sanctify his intuition that would in turn give him the reliable sanctified intuitive antennae(yes, I see what I did there) to intuit McMark’s wholehearted agreement. So, the holy spirit as super-ego, conscience as ego and intuition as Id? Brokenness as therapy?

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  206. It could be you are mocking ‘sanctified intuition’ cw?

    You might could benefit from some (Heb 5:14)? and perhaps realize that the Lord is not right there with you in all your bad-mouthing of siblings, His sons.

    Or maybe you know He doesn’t approve, but just don’t care; anyway what can you really do about it –that remaining indwelling sin and all – and anyway, why care, your being already justified and all.

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  207. @ Ali: I wasn’t mocking you, in case that wasn’t clear. My humor runs to the absurd, as the Caglets will attest (“Daaaad”).

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  208. It’s almost impossible for me to believe that this many intelligent adults have this much trouble with biblical principles this basic and simple.
    —————————————-
    Election
    Redemption
    Calling
    Justification
    Propitiation
    Regeneration
    Sanctification (both kinds, positional can go up with justification))
    Glorification

    ———————————-
    These come as a package. You get them all or you get none. If you are devoid of any one of these, you are devoid of them all. Your sneering, jeering condescension at the idea of those who have them being radically changed from the inside out as well as from the outside in, which is the same thing as saying that you either have them all or you have none, is quite grievous to behold. 😦

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  209. Greg, I thought ‘we’ did a good job with it. We identified, made distinction, intuited compatibility, intuition found ready verification, provided scholarly citation and contemporary engagement and made therapeutic recommendation. All in a combox. And, now, you still have time for year end donation.

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  210. Jeff,

    As usual, a very thoughtful response along with a tone that makes me less likely to fight back with a smart aleck response and check to see if I might be biased in some harmful way in some of my beliefs. A lot of things were going through my mind when reading your response:

    1) I am a bit intrigued by the possibility of legalism while claiming to be anti-legalistic. I’m not sure if I am totally understanding what you are saying but I’m relating it with the damage that can be done when coming to the wrong conclusions about depravity and total inability- especially as it relates to the teaching and preaching of the Gospel and a possible indifference regarding how you might be an obstacle to others. I’m not clear on all that and McMarks response to you in that regard. Maybe you can help clarify that a bit.

    2) I think there is a lot of misunderstanding as to what it means to walk in the Spirit and if the Spirit really “wars” against our flesh in moving our wills to fight our still inherent corruption, pollution or any other way one describes the effects of our guilt and condemnation that inflict us due to our inability to obey the Law of God still at work inside of us. Sin, flesh and the Law of God are what work together to try to keep us guilty and condemned. As a result, it is the atonement that really goes to the root of the problem, not the warring of the Spirit against the flesh. It seems to me you can war all you want and still end up knowing you are guilty and condemned. So, I need help in clarifying that whole ordeal and process too. Maybe it is both that occur. And that does kind of have implications for understanding the fulfilling of the Law issue.

    3) I want to say more but I have to get ready to go to work. So, I have to stop for now. There is still a lot more I have to think about in your response to me.

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  211. John, it is the atonement that allows God to be both just and the justifier of them that believe. All of Him. It is the atonement that in this light frees a holy God to adopt us as His children, make us new creatures and to put His Holy Spirit within us, who then empowers us to will and to do what is HIS good pleasure. Though failing, as the catechism says, in word, thought and deed every day. This IS the Romans 7 war.

    The atonement alone is what makes us acceptable to the Lord. It is also however the atonement that brings with it all the rest of my list above. My righteousness is ALL of Christ. My hatred and war with my own sin is both made possible by and in adoring response to that reality. All of Him.

    Nobody is saying that personal sanctification is what makes or keeps one right. Just like a heartbeat is the universal vital sign of life in the physical body, so is a longing to please our new master the pulse of new spiritual life in Christ.

    Again: (this must be the 5th time on this site 🙂 )
    Lazarus is the perfect illustration. He played absolutely NO part in raising himself from death to life. However, once raised, he DID walk outta that tomb. Had he laid there stiff and stinking with no heartbeat or respiration, NObody would have believed he had been raised and quite rightly so. There are certain universally present characteristics among the living. That this goes for new life in Christ just as well, is everywhere proclaimed in scripture.

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  212. ” Why would it be unbiblical for us to seek feedback from those with whom we share the Gospel?”
    Because they are spiritually dead enemies of God who hate the Gospel?

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  213. Jeff Cagle says: Well, that was a slap.

    Slap? this is a ‘slap’ Jeff : deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. Proverbs 27:6

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  214. Craig, I just want you to know that I wasn’t laughing at your idea of intuition. I think I understand what you mean; I understand it more as our conscience. But ia moral intuition and conscience are really the same thing. Our conscience will either condemn us or excuse us( how does that happen with abiding sin? see “mortal” and “venial “), when we measure ourselves in the light of God’s law ( Romans 2). Every Sunday Catholic’s examine their conscience and recite the Confiteor from the heart:
    I confess to almighty God
    and to you, my brothers and sisters,
    that I have greatly sinned,
    in my thoughts and in my words,
    in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
    through my fault, through my fault,
    through my most grievous fault;
    therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
    all the Angels and Saints,
    and you, my brothers and sisters,
    to pray for me to the Lord our God.

    So, I found CW’s humour funny, but it wasn’t at your expense. You’re a good guy.

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  215. Supplication to Mary and dead “saints” on the bell curve of holiness and access is always a deal-killer. It’s all the add-ons that undoes Christ’s sufficiency. So much for one mediator. Susan, where’s my infallible commentaries? You can’t be trading on supernatural charism through the laying on of hands and NOT give me the infallible takes on the Apostolic Tradition. Then I need Vat II pastoral application in Latin or English, you choose. Never mind your multiple schools, you’ve got Charism to settle that. I require things of your claims besides stealing perspicuity and protestantism from the prots. No more blending, I need the branded product.

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  216. Dear Sean,

    Hmmmm, are you one of those, what they call, internet trolls? Just teasing I have found some Bulverisms in your writing though; i.e. “all romantic and esoteric”.

    “Supplication to Mary and dead “saints” on the bell curve of holiness and access is always a deal-killer. It’s all the add-ons that undoes Christ’s sufficiency. So much for one mediator. Susan, where’s my infallible commentaries? You can’t be trading on supernatural charism through the laying on of hands and NOT give me the infallible takes on the Apostolic Tradition. Then I need Vat II pastoral application in Latin or English, you choose. Never mind your multiple schools, you’ve got Charism to settle that. I require things of your claims besides stealing perspicuity and protestantism from the prots. No more blending, I need the branded product.”

    It does sound like you have forgotten more than I know( although I hope you grade me on the convert’s curve. :)).

    You know how the Hebrew people always referred to our Lord as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? God is the God of the living, not the dead, so prayers are prayers of intercession, just like you asking your mother or father to pray for you, so when the NT Church recites its litany, it’s the same thing the people of God have always done.
    In fact, the continuity that Catholicism has with Judaism was a clue to me that I was headed in the right direction. I first noticed this religious continuity and “ancientness” when I read St. Augustine’s Confessions.

    You know that Catholic’s don’t worship people now in Heaven. It’s an impossibility for us undo Christ’s sufficiency or to rob God of His glory. God as first cause created creatures who can actually do good works. Yes, works that He has worked in us by His grace. So we can see that grace is actually applied through the normal means of the sacraments as well as through prayer and conversion, and it is actually us, our real personal soul who cooperates( merit) or not( condemnation). The ‘not’ part is our own fault, not God’s; who from His fullness, we have all received grace upon grace( John 1:16).

    Sean, I’m sure you’re a diamond in the rough:) Take care, I’m out of here…….for now anyways:)

    Merry Christmas,
    Susan

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  217. Dgh, I am living and working in Grand Haven, Michigan. My daughter lives here too. I’m working at s place in Grand Haven that makes camshafts for a variety of different engine sizes.

    Liked by 1 person

  218. Susan says: “[ Greg ], I just want you to know that I wasn’t laughing at your idea of intuition. I think I understand what you mean; I understand it more as our conscience.”

    My salvation experience and the systematic teaching of scripture match perfectly Susan. Of course at whatever points that may not seem to be true, scripture must prevail.

    Before I was a believer and still dead in Adam, I loved sin. LOVED it. Even then though, the remaining image of God from before Adam’s fall told me that I was guilty and wrong. It got fainter the deeper in sin I fell, but it never went away. There were those occasional moments of heightened clarity when I knew my life was broken, but I loved sin more.

    When I was sitting on Bobby’s couch in 1984 and he told me the gospel, that I was a sinner spawned from sinners and that I could never make myself right and that only Jesus Christ could, I believed him. I was not looking for God when I met this man 2 days earlier and the last thing on my mind going to his apartment was to have some kinda religious thing happen to me.

    He told me to tell the one true and living God that I agreed with Him. That I was lost and guilty before His court and that only the man born God, Jesus of Nazareth could fix this otherwise irreconcilable relationship we had. (paraphrasing) I did. He gave me a red Gideon KJV bible and his phone number. (he had only given me his address to that point), sent me home on my bicycle (LONG ride) and told me to read the gospel of John first. (I didn’t even know what testament it was in. Or the difference between them for that matter 😀 ) I went to work 4 hours late the next day because I could not put that bible down. (i called in and told them I was reading the bible and would be late)

    I read it constantly In the ensuing weeks and months (eventually turning into years), praying rather feebly along the way and going to different (and variously sound or no) churches as well. I noticed that my intuitions/conscience was being turned upside down. I found in myself a growing repulsion for the very things I once lived for, but also a perverse and disgusting remaining love for them as well. I saw in the scriptures that this was to be expected. The war was on.

    Even during a somewhat protracted season of horrific backsliding, I hated my sin. HATED it. I couldn’t make peace with it no matter how hard I tried and God hung onto me while I sinned right in His face AFTER knowing Him and knowing His word better than probably 95% of the professing Christians in this country. (oh what a long story and the lessons I learned in there) 11 years ago this coming March He made me this time fully free from alcohol when I wasn’t even asking.

    I see the life I’ve lived so far all over God’s word (AND church history). In fact, it’s only God’s word that enables me to interpret it correctly. That war is still raging, but just as the confession says (Thank God for those men), the new man in Christ, the one who loves God and hates sin, is at the helm and the trajectory is forward. ALL of Him. I would’ve been dead before I was 16. More than once and I certainly would have died in that bottle even if not on the street.

    The point is, my story is nothing special and some version of it is shared by every one of the elect throughout history. The middle class, suburbanite shlub, with a generally happy marriage and decent peaceful life is probably further away from his need for the Lord in his mind than I was.

    He may DO most of the right things, but because of his corrupt intuitions/conscience he does them for all the wrong reasons. They are not born from faith in, nor to the glory of the Lord his God. If he is one those given to the Son by the Father in eternity, he too WILL have his intuitions/conscience turned upside down even though it may not need to change nearly as much of his outward behavior as it needed to change mine. In his heart he WILL come to know that his previous apparently decent and upright life was as filthy rags (REALLY filthy) in the eyes of the God that every self righteous act and action offended.

    Oh well. Don’t know how I got on all that. 🙂 Forgetting these guys here for a minute Susan. What I just described can never be yours in the false gospel of Roman Catholicism. It is powerless to save and is in fact just another iteration of condemnation by law. I do not say that to be hurtful. Just the opposite actually.

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  219. Susan, stop giving Mary short shrift. She’s the curve destroyer extraordinaire. She ‘wins’ the gifts of eternal salvation for her brothers. Don’t sell me, ‘just like asking your mother and father to pray for you”. She’s got special access as do others who passed on and progressed farther in their sanctification and she’s also a distributor of the graces. This is CCD material. Bulverisms?! Don’t sell me veneration. I know better.

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  220. Greg,

    I know you mean well—and here comes the but— but you are mistaken. I had all the same experiences you did. Randy, a Southern Baptist seminarian held his little girl on his lap as he talked to me in the parking lot of Western Sizzl’n Steak House on Airport Blv. Mobile, Alabama in March of 1985 while we both waited for his wife, whom I waitressed with, to get off of work. He told me that I was a sinner and that Jesus loved me and died for me( the me personal part really hit home). I had a conversion experience and “got saved” as the another waitress mockingly called it. I was baptised( submersed) April 7, 1985-Easter Sunday.
    I’ve been to every kind of “church” out there including” home church” in Centerville TN. as we tried to “find” the primitive early church. After bearing the teaching from many different “leaders” from differing theological schools or from no school at all, I came to the conclusion that if God did not give us a visible church then all churches are man made. Everybody and his bible was not the plan that God had when He carefully instructed His disciple and gave them authority( John 20:22), an authority that is beyond mere possession of a bible, called, “The Church”.
    Ever seen the movie, “The Book of Eli”? That premise IS what I experienced in Protestantism.

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  221. Susan, please think.

    “it’s the same thing the people of God have always done.”

    Where did the OT saints send petitions to the deceased?

    “It’s an impossibility for us undo Christ’s sufficiency or to rob God of His glory.”

    Well, please explain purgatory, then. You’re going there.

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  222. Greg The Terrible says: My salvation experience..

    Susan says: It is actually us, our real personal soul who cooperates( merit) or not( condemnation).

    Greg The Terrible says: What I just described can never be yours in the false gospel of Roman Catholicism. It is powerless to save and is in fact just another iteration of condemnation by law. I do not say that to be hurtful. Just the opposite actually.

    Thanks for taking the time to share Greg. I love hearing God’s work through personal testimonies. Thanks for sharing the truth with Susan too.

    Rev 12: 11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony [what God has done], and they did not love their life even when faced with death.
    Rom 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

    Liked by 1 person

  223. dgh—of what are you full?

    Osiander would answer–the indwelling presence of the person, not merely something the person did

    https://oldlife.org/2014/11/06/putting-point/

    dgh–The sixteenth-century Protestants identified salvation with justification because that was the benefit in which believers received the perfect righteousness of Christ. Anything less than perfection, graciously induced or not, whether on the Roman Catholic scheme or the Norman Shepherd plan, was not going to save…..the Reformed might consider that Lutherans understand better than Reformed triumphalists and experimental Calvinists that God’s glory is nowhere more on display, at least in this world, in the justification of sinners.”

    Richard Gaffin–“Typically in the Reformation tradition the hope of salvation is expressed in terms of Christ’s righteousness, especially as imputed to the believer…however, I have to wonder if ‘Christ in you’ is not more prominent as an expression of evangelical hope…” p 110, By Faith Not By Sight

    Norman Shepherd– “The prophets and apostles viewed election from the perspective of the covenant of grace, whereas Reformed theologians of a later day have tended to view the covenant of grace from the perspective of election. The result of this is that the reformed preacher no longer says “Christ died for you” – but, when these words are construed, not from the point of view of election, but of the covenant, the Reformed evangelist can and must say on the basis of John 3:16, Christ died for you.” The Call of Grace

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  224. Susan, your experience is nothing like mine. If it were, you would not be a practitioner of works righteousness and anti-christian superstition and idolatry today. For reasons sufficient unto Himself and to which I am not privy, God has not to this point seen fit to preserve you the way has me. I assure you, the glory is all His. I went outta my way to achieve damnation, even as a believer, and He would not let me. I jumped off that cliff and there was His hand. He always wins.
    —————————————————————
    McMark, does Susan have a credible Christian testimony according to scripture? Why or why not? (watch this folks. I hope you have your popcorn and Pepsi)
    https://bestgifsdotnet.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/double-salto-backflip-to-the-snow.gif?w=350&h=200&crop=1

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  225. I sinned right in His face AFTER knowing Him and knowing His word better than probably 95% of the professing Christians in this country.

    Susan, your experience is nothing like mine…For reasons sufficient unto Himself and to which I am not privy, God has not to this point seen fit to preserve you the way has me.

    Greg, I’m loathe to give you more of the sort of fuel you clearly crave, but does your sanctified intuition tell you anything here when you read back these words?

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  226. @gtt
    What exactly are you disagreeing with? I read lots of bluster and exasperation, but I don’t know what it is exactly you disagree with. While many of us here are reformed you do realize that isn’t true for all here. We’ve got baptists, lutherans, rcs, evangelicals, and occasionally an agnostic. Even within the reformed fold you have varying views on cultural transformation and all sorts of other issues.

    I’m pretty sure for example that McMark has explicitly stated that he is not reformed. Perhaps he disagrees with Dordt about the limited atonement. I dunno. What I do know is that simply dismissing what he writes doesn’t move the conversation forward. Especially when you demand that people here pass your test. It is decidedly unhelpful… especially coupled with your purple prose, overuse of emphasis, and sloppy use of language. You consistently respond to challenges with complaints that you’ve been misunderstood. I get it. It happens to all of us at one time or another. But you have seminarians, professionals, and professors who evidently never get you. Maybe the problem is your lack of clarity.

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  227. sdb says: Especially when you demand that people here pass your test.
    But you have seminarians, professionals, and professors who evidently never get you.

    Interesting.
    Greg, please try to pass the intellectual test.
    Problem solved- if only people were more intellectual, more would get the gospel.

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  228. D.G.,
    Why would that be Biblical? Unless one believes that there are no unbelievers who are in touch reality, unbelievers can often tell us how we are coming across and whether we are speaking and living consistently with what they see in the Scriptures or whether our lives re consistent with what we preach. Receiving such feedback would be Biblical unless receiving it is unbiblical.

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  229. sdb asks:@gtt
    What exactly are you disagreeing with? I read lots of bluster and exasperation, but I don’t know what it is exactly you disagree with.

    External justification and internal regeneration always come together and always result in a changed life that those around us can see. True or false? That idiot proof, dead simple question has been asked by me at least 2 dozen times on this site over the last three years and I still have not gotten a matching answer from any of the regulars here.

    I’m pretty sure for example that McMark has explicitly stated that he is not reformed.

    I’m pretty sure he’s Lutheran. Which today’s leading Lutheran voices are flat down libertine heretics I wouldn’t let my children near. McMArk didn’t make a very good first IMPRESSION and while I don’t know the man and have nothing against him personally, he has not done much to rehab that first impression since. I cite his steadfast refusal even now to answer the simple question I posed to you above as my reason for saying so.

    You consistently respond to challenges with complaints that you’ve been misunderstood.

    I have consistently responded to challenges with hours and hours of exposition of standard simple historically reformed thought, many times linked directly to the OPC site or other historically accepted reformed resources. I can fill the next 10 yards of this page with copied and pasted examples going right back to my very first day here.

    But you have seminarians, professionals, and professors who evidently never get you. Maybe the problem is your lack of clarity.

    I would be willing to entertain such a possibility, but this is only true of some types and groups of people. Actually, on this site, I’m pretty I’m understood just fine most of the time. At least on stuff like this (the epistemology discussion is a different story). I am confident that Dr. Hart, whose house this is, knows exactly where we disagree and that my views are the ones most commonly held in the past in his own tradition.

    Aside from the fact that I can see it plainly from my studies, you know how I know that? Because, once again, he is not going to come on this page and dispute what I just said. Watch. He KNOWS that if I were born 200 years ago, somebody like me would have been just an unremarkable, dime a dozen pew dweller in a solid reformed church somewhere. I’m still back there. There is no “oldlife” otherwise.

    “Pietism” my eye. I only look all weird and extreme because YA,LL have left your own roots and ridden the waves of change right along with the world. Major theological “adjustments” have been necessary to make room for the love of worldliness. All this brand new permissive theology has been developed in order to move Westminster’s moral boundaries and unhitch personal sanctification from justification. Just like the Lutherans, who would probably say that Charles Manson is on his way to heaven if he confessed Christ as a child and was wounded by some church that dared enforce biblical standards.

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  230. @ali

    sdb says: Especially when you demand that people here pass your test.
    But you have seminarians, professionals, and professors who evidently never get you.

    Interesting.
    Greg, please try to pass the intellectual test.
    Problem solved- if only people were more intellectual, more would get the gospel.

    Why would you construe what I wrote as a need for greg to pass an intellectual test. I certainly do not believe, nor did what I wrote entail, that intellectual ability is tied to the abiloty to get the gospel.

    I would think my point was clear, but correct me if I am mistaken. Rather than posing as exasperated and demanding that commenters pass some test, try clearly explaining precisely how something written here is problematic. It might move the discussion forward in productive ways.

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  231. Someone: I’m pretty sure for example that McMark has explicitly stated that he is not reformed.

    Greg: I’m pretty sure he’s Lutheran.

    Were I a betting man, I could make a lot of money betting against you. Go back and consider

    * Who he quotes
    * What he says about the two kingdoms
    * What he says about the visible church
    * What he says about infant baptism.

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  232. I think tirribulus just earned an auto-name change to slanderus.
    And, I’m [-]pretty[/-] sure McMark isn’t Lutheran, and he’s self-conscious enough to know he’s not Reformed. Unlike Gregory, who thinks he is.

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  233. Greg, the problem with your formulation, and what makes it seem pietistic, is your insistence on the phrase “that others around you can see.” That’s why you are getting pushback.

    If you contented yourself with the Confessional categories — mortification of the sin nature, weakening of the lusts, strengthening of the saving graces — then no-one would object. (John Y might, but he’s not presenting himself here as a Reformed adherent.)

    But you insist on slipping in a nonConfessional phrase “…that others around you can see.” And when I asked you to produce Scriptural cause for that phrase … crickets.

    So you’ve amended the Confession, and now you’re demanding that others sign on to your amendment? Nope.

    Now, this is a combox, and I’m not suggesting that you’re being slippery on purpose or malicious or anything like that. I suspect that you’ve fallen into an unintentional error.

    But I am trying to be very clear that your heartburn is mostly self-caused. If you want to level a charge of being unConfessional, then you have to start by sticking strictly to the Confession.

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  234. JC says:
    Go back and consider [of McMark]
    * Who he quotes
    * What he says about the two kingdoms
    * What he says about the visible church
    * What he says about infant baptism.

    Maybe I should. I stopped paying attention a long time ago and “pretty sure” isn’t the same as certain. I’ve seen him around Facebook too, though it’s been a little while.
    —————————————————
    Billy Club: “I think tirribulus just earned an auto-name change to slanderus.
    And, I’m [-]pretty[/-] sure McMark isn’t Lutheran, and he’s self-conscious enough to know he’s not Reformed. Unlike Gregory, who thinks he is.”

    How do you attract these people Darryl? 😀 Calling somebody Lutheran (apparently by mistake) is defamation now.? Oh, and William? “Slander” is verbal defamation .What you spuriously allege of me here would be “libel.”

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  235. Greg, so no, nothing going off about the embarrassing arrogance of saying you understand the Bible more than 95% of professing Christians in this country or the utter silliness of comparing your subjective experience to another’s and declaring hers null and void (like saying my preference to hamburgers clearly beats yours for hot dogs)? Are you sure your spiritualistic intuitionalizer is on? Maybe it has a short circuit or something.

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  236. JC says: But you insist on slipping in a nonConfessional phrase “…that others around you can see.” And when I asked you to produce Scriptural cause for that phrase … crickets.

    I figure the justification that the apostle James is referring to in the second chapter of his epistle is what can be seen and what therefore testifies to one’s justification before and favor with God. Don’t you? OR, do you believe that he is saying we actually gain justification with God by works?

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  237. Zrim says ” … the embarrassing arrogance of saying you understand the Bible more than 95% of professing Christians in this country…”

    It was ballpark figure and intended to illustrate the inexcusable nature of my state at that time.

    …or the utter silliness of comparing your subjective experience to another’s and declaring hers null and void (like saying my preference to hamburgers clearly beats yours for hot dogs)?

    Steve, you missed the part where I said that my experience comports perfectly with scripture and history or I’d have to change my misinterpretation of my experience. I did say that didn’t I? Lemme check.

    Yep, there it is.

    Also, are you saying that dear Susan’s tragic apostasy, and descent into papist superstition and idolatry is a personal preference the same as hamburgers to hotdogs?

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  238. “Also, are you saying that dear Susan’s tragic apostasy, and descent into papist superstition and idolatry is a personal preference the same as hamburgers to hotdogs?”

    My goodness, charges of superstition and idolatry, again. Was I justified by faith( or baptism) or neither back in 1985, since Randy never said anything about the intellectual litmus test of the five solas. Shane Rosenthal wasn’t around to clarify, and I my answer about “what is the gospel” would have been wrong since I was so newly born.
    Shouldn’t the gospel and ecclesial existence be more universal by now?

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  239. Susan,

    The gospel is simple and universal: Are you trusting in Jesus and only Jesus—not your good works in any way whatsoever—to secure your righteousness before God or not?

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  240. Near as it’s possible over what limited interaction we’ve had here, I’ve always like you Susan. You’re a nice lady. I take no joy (AT ALL) in saying these things.

    Only God knows whether you are one of His or not. What I do know is that whatever you may have professed before, you now embrace a false anti-Christian religion with a “gospel” that is anything other than good news. For me to treat you as a believer in the Jesus and same gospel of the Christian scriptures, would not only be a grave disservice to you, but sin against the Lord 😦

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  241. @ Greg: With regard to James 2, the word order pretty much requires that “you see” has the clause “that by works a man is justified and not by faith alone.”

    ὁρᾶτε ὅτι ἐξ ἔργων δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος καὶ οὐκ ἐκ πίστεως μόνον.

    It is not grammatically possible to read this as saying that “works make our justification visible to others.” Nor do James’s examples support such a reading: Abraham and Rahab were not demonstrating their justification to anyone in their respective OT accounts.

    But neither is James saying that we are justified by our works (although he uses that phrase wrt Rahab). After all, Abraham was justified by faith about 15 years prior to the sacrifice event. And the author to the Hebrews explains Rahab’s actions in terms of her faith.

    So my answer to your question is “none of the above.” Rather, James is saying that our works fulfill our faith, in the sense of suitably flowing out of a living faith. Real faith will produce works. Paul would explain further, because those who believe are adopted and partake of the Spirit, and those who do not have the Spirit of Christ do not belong to Christ.

    That’s very far away from “being seen by others.”

    Longer analysis: http://jrcagle.blogspot.com/search/label/James

    But let’s say that we disagree on this point, which is fine. I’m aware that several reputable commentators have taken the “you see whether a person is justified by his works” approach, and you currently agree with them.

    Here’s my point: The Confession doesn’t require your interpretation, which means that you cannot honestly say that people who disagree with your interpretation are being unConfessional. That’s a hard line that must be drawn.

    But more softly, I would suggest that an emphasis or desire to have your good works be seen by others is something that Jesus warns about.

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  242. What exactly are you disagreeing with? I read lots of bluster and exasperation, but I don’t know what it is exactly you disagree with.

    External justification and internal regeneration always come together and always result in a changed life that those around us can see. True or false? That idiot proof, dead simple question has been asked by me at least 2 dozen times on this site over the last three years and I still have not gotten a matching answer from any of the regulars here.

    So you aren’t disputing something specific that Jeff, Robert, Z, Sean, dgh, or I have actually wrote, rather you are looking to see if we can pass your test? OK, let’s see how I do. I’m no seminarian and this is a commbox, so have mercy. I don’t know what external justification is or what internal regeneration is. I do believe that on his justified iff one is regenerated and that all those who are regenerated are justified.

    I do not agree that justification results in a changed life that all can see. This smacks of a sort of wesleyan perfectionism. I’m generally loath to share personal information on the internet, but I’ll provide a very brief sketch of my conversion story – I was raised by believing parents and bathed in the word from birth. At the ripe old age of 8 I understood what it meant to say I was a sinner who needed a savior and prayed to receive Christ (walked the aisle and was baptized). I don’t recall what my pre-conversion state was like, and I doubt that my school teachers would see a huge difference from the shy compliant seven year old to the shy, compliant eight year old. After growing in grace for a decade, was I different as an 17yro than I was as a 7yro. You bet. But to an outside observer, I suspect that I was worse in some ways. You see, as a 7yro, I wasn’t tempted to lust, didn’t know any curse words (I was blessedly sheltered), and it never occurred to me to cheat on a homework assignment. As a 17yro, lust,unwholesome language, and cheating were all sins I struggled against – sometimes failing and turning to Christ in repentance. I doubt that everyone who saw me as a 17yro would think I was holier than I was as a pre-converted 7yro. Growing in Christ further as a 27yro now a husband, Ph.D. student, and new father, I faced temptations I didn’t face as a 17yro and temptations that seemed insurmountable as a 17yro faded away. Your formulation suggests that every believer goes through a sort of crisis conversion. That isn’t the experience of many of us who were covenant children who never strayed from the teaching we received in our youth. So I’m going to have to go with false.

    So what do I believe? I think this mostly covers things…

    Q. What do you believe concerning “the forgiveness of sins”?
    A. I believe that God, because of Christ’s satisfaction, will no longer remember any of my sins or my sinful nature which I need to struggle against all my life. Rather, by grace God grants me the righteousness of Christ to free me forever from judgment.

    Q. What good does it do you, however, to believe [what we confess in the Apostle’s Creed]?
    A. In Christ I am righteous before God and heir to life everlasting

    Q. How are you righteous before God?
    A. Only by true faith in Jesus Christ. Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments, of never having kept any of them, and of still being inclined toward all evil, nevertheless, without any merit of my own, out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, and as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me. All I need to do is accept this gift with a believing heart.

    Q. Why can’t our good works be our righteousness before God, or at least a part of our righteousness?
    A. Because the righteousness which can pass God’s judgment must be entirely perfect and must in every way measure up to the divine law. But even our best works in this life are imperfect and stained with sin.

    Q. How can our good works be said to merit nothing when God promises to reward them in this life and the next?
    A. This reward is not earned; it is a gift of grace.

    Q. But doesn’t this teaching make people indifferent and wicked?
    A. No. It is impossible for those grafted into Christ through true faith not to produce fruits of gratitude.

    Q. It is through faith alone that we share in Christ and all his benefits: where then does that faith come from?
    A. The Holy Spirit produces it in our hearts by the preaching of the holy gospel, and confirms it by the use of the holy sacraments.

    Q. Can those be saved who do not turn to God from their ungrateful and unrepentant ways?
    A. By no means….

    Q. What is involved in genuine repentance or conversion?
    A. Two things: the dying-away of the old self, and the rising-to-life of the new

    Q. What is the dying-away of the old self?
    A. To be genuinely sorry for sin and more and more to hate and run away from it.

    Q. What is the rising-to-life of the new self?
    A. Wholehearted joy in God through Christ and a love and delight to live according to the will of God by doing every kind of good work.

    Q. What are good works?
    A. Only those which are done out of true faith, conform to God’s law, and are done for God’s glory

    A bit more about Sanctification:

    We believe that this true faith, produced in us by the hearing of God’s Word and by the work of the Holy Spirit, regenerates us and makes us new creatures, causing us to live a new life and freeing us from the slavery of sin. Therefore, far from making people cold toward living in a pious and holy way, this justifying faith, quite to the contrary, so works within them that apart from it they will never do a thing out of love for God but only out of love for themselves and fear of being condemned. So then, it is impossible for this holy faith to be unfruitful in a human being, seeing that we do not speak of an empty faith but of what Scripture calls “faith working through love,” which moves people to do by themselves the works that God has commanded in the Word.

    These works, proceeding from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable to God, since they are all sanctified by God’s grace. Yet they do not count toward our justification— for by faith in Christ we are justified, even before we do good works. Otherwise they could not be good, any more than the fruit of a tree could be good if the tree is not good in the first place.

    So then, we do good works, but not for merit—for what would we merit? Rather, we are indebted to God for the good works we do, and not God to us, since God “is at work in [us], enabling [us] both to will and to work for his good pleasure” — thus keeping in mind what is written: “When you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done.’“

    Yet we do not wish to deny that God rewards good works— but it is by grace that God crowns these gifts. Moreover, although we do good works we do not base our salvation on them; for we cannot do any work that is not defiled by our flesh and also worthy of punishment. And even if we could point to one, memory of a single sin is enough for God to reject that work. So we would always be in doubt, tossed back and forth without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be tormented constantly if they did not rest on the merit of the suffering and death of our Savior.

    So here is the problem I see with your formulation. The moralistic muslim, mormon, and jew may have outward actions that look to the casual observer as quite righteous. Indeed, they may be more faithful at attending to prayer, abstaining from worldly distractions, and living chaste lives. But insofar as those things are not done out of true faith, they are dead works that merit nothing. But the outside observer may not recognize the difference between outward behavior done in true faith and outward behavior not done in true faith that is otherwise superficially similar. Furthermore, we know from the Canons of Dort that,

    Those people whom God according to his purpose calls into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord and regenerates by the Holy Spirit, God also sets free from the dominion and slavery of sin, though not entirely from the flesh and from the body of sin as long as they are in this life….those converted are not always so activated and motivated by God that in certain specific actions they cannot by their own fault depart from the leading of grace, be led astray by the desires of the flesh, and give in to them. For this reason they must constantly watch and pray that they may not be led into temptations. When they fail to do this, not only can they be carried away by the flesh, the world, and Satan into sins, even serious and outrageous ones, but also by God’s just permission they sometimes are so carried away—witness the sad cases, described in Scripture, of David, Peter, and other saints falling into sins. By such monstrous sins, however, they greatly offend God, deserve the sentence of death, grieve the Holy Spirit, suspend the exercise of faith, severely wound the conscience, and sometimes lose the awareness of grace for a time—until, after they have returned to the right way by genuine repentance, God’s fatherly face again shines upon them. For God, who is rich in mercy, according to the unchangeable purpose of election does not take the Holy Spirit from his own completely, even when they fall grievously. Neither does God let them fall down so far that they forfeit the grace of adoption and the state of justification, or commit the sin which leads to death (the sin against the Holy Spirit), and plunge themselves, entirely forsaken by God, into eternal ruin….Meanwhile, Scripture testifies that believers have to contend in this life with various doubts of the flesh, and that under severe temptation they do not always experience this full assurance of faith and certainty of perseverance. But God, the Father of all comfort, “does not let them be tempted beyond what they can bear, but with the temptation he also provides a way out” (1 Cor. 10:13), and by the Holy Spirit revives in them the assurance of their perseverance.

    I apologize for the copious pasting, but I’m not sure how to say all this more succinctly in my own words. I do see departures from your claims and what I’ve extracted from the three forms of unity:
    1. That sanctification always result in a changed life that those around us can see. Aw we see from Dort – believers can fall into serious and outrageous sins – presumably not everyone observing such a person would conclude that person has a changed life.
    2. You listed an Ordo Salutis. I didn’t recognize that ordering. It certainly is not congruent with what I understand the classical reformed tradition to hold to. You said that one either has all or none. Yet, the TFU notes that one is justified before one is sanctified. Further, we are not yet glorified – so we do have some of those without the others at various stages in our life.

    Why does all this matter. Well, the question on the table is what we should expect the impact of the gospel on society to be. Is it always “good” as the world counts it? I think the answer has to be no. Was Rome better off being sacked by barbarians in fifth century after Rome had been evangelized or in the first century? I think most would agree that a society protected by barbarians is better than one being sacked by barbarians.

    If we fast forward to more contemporary times, we see that the homicide rate in Britain today is half of what it was during the days of Spurgeon. The homicide rate in Japan (where fewer than 3% of the population identifies as any kind of Christian) is a tenth of what it is in the US. Within the US, there is an inverse relationship between the church attendance rate and the homicide rate (Utah being a major outlier…). Perhaps we can best make sense of this when we recognize that common grace (providence) provides a way for unbelievers to do outwardly beneficial works even if such works are not done in faith and thus merit them nothing. Further, personal morality may not be the best measure – yes those who are in Christ will recognize sinful behavior that they may have once embraced and thus hate it more and more. But the the key difference is that the outwardly good things that are done are now done in faith – that is not something visible to all.

    I’m pretty sure for example that McMark has explicitly stated that he is not reformed.

    I’m pretty sure he’s Lutheran. Which today’s leading Lutheran voices are flat down libertine heretics I wouldn’t let my children near. McMArk didn’t make a very good first IMPRESSION and while I don’t know the man and have nothing against him personally, he has not done much to rehab that first impression since. I cite his steadfast refusal even now to answer the simple question I posed to you above as my reason for saying so.

    Ok, so not reformed and not representative of reformed voices here. McMark has a lot of interesting things to say, but there is no “y’all” here.

    You consistently respond to challenges with complaints that you’ve been misunderstood.

    I have consistently responded to challenges with hours and hours of exposition of standard simple historically reformed thought, many times linked directly to the OPC site or other historically accepted reformed resources. I can fill the next 10 yards of this page with copied and pasted examples going right back to my very first day here.

    But you have seminarians, professionals, and professors who evidently never get you. Maybe the problem is your lack of clarity.

    I would be willing to entertain such a possibility, but this is only true of some types and groups of people. Actually, on this site, I’m pretty I’m understood just fine most of the time. At least on stuff like this (the epistemology discussion is a different story). I am confident that Dr. Hart, whose house this is, knows exactly where we disagree and that my views are the ones most commonly held in the past in his own tradition.

    Aside from the fact that I can see it plainly from my studies, you know how I know that? Because, once again, he is not going to come on this page and dispute what I just said. Watch. He KNOWS that if I were born 200 years ago, somebody like me would have been just an unremarkable, dime a dozen pew dweller in a solid reformed church somewhere. I’m still back there. There is no “oldlife” otherwise.

    And yet, I’m still not sure what it is that reformed folks here have written that you have a problem with. More clarity and less exasperation would be helpful.

    “Pietism” my eye. I only look all weird and extreme because YA,LL have left your own roots and ridden the waves of change right along with the world. Major theological “adjustments” have been necessary to make room for the love of worldliness. All this brand new permissive theology has been developed in order to move Westminster’s moral boundaries and unhitch personal sanctification from justification. Just like the Lutherans, who would probably say that Charles Manson is on his way to heaven if he confessed Christ as a child and was wounded by some church that dared enforce biblical standards.

    This is just ridiculous. First, who is “YA’LL”? I’ve already noted that we have people from many different traditions here. Do you mean Z, dgh, sean, jeff, robert and I (I think I’ve covered the OPC/PCA gang)? Why not show what we’ve actually written contradicts our standards? How dare you impute motives to us like that. You have very, very limited information about where most of us stand on all sorts of things. Instead of taking us at our word when we describe concerns about the dangers of various forms of legalism and syncretism (two common themes here), you are making charges with scant evidence. As far as the Lutherans go, I have no idea what you are talking about. I know very little about the Lutherans, but I do recognize that the ELCA, LCMS, and LCWS have differences not unlike the PCUSA PCA, and OPC. Is such generalization really valid? I seem to recall that one point of departure between lutherans and the reformed is that the lutherans do not historically hold to the perseverance of the saints. That being the case, I find it very hard to see how your characterization of lutherans viz. a viz. Manson could be accurate. But like I said, I know almost nothing about lutherans and see no reason what that is relevant here.

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  243. Greg, I see that in the time it took to me get around to posting my overly long, rambling comment others have chimed in…didn’t mean to pile on – looks like Jeff made my point much more pithily and clearly than I did (as usual).

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  244. Jeff—Were I a betting man, I could make a lot of money betting against you. Go back and consider
    * Who he quotes
    * What he says about the two kingdoms
    * What he says about the visible church
    * What he says about infant baptism.

    mcmark–Jeff is correct, because I am not a Lutheran. With a couple of exceptions, all the Lutherans I know believe that Jesus died for every sinner. I myself find the justice of subsitutionary satisfaction so essential to the gospel that I disagree with those Reformed folks (like Norman Shepherd) who teach that those “in the covenant” should be told that Christ died for the elect. I think it’s good news (not a secret) that all for whom Christ died will be saved.

    Making a distinction between law and gospel does not make you a dispensationalist or even a Lutheran. I don’t even think that the “baptism which saves” is with water or by or with the Holy Spirit, which again makes it impossible to be Lutheran. And most “baptists” think the word “baptism” always has something to do with water.

    To be a “Reformed anabaptist” is just as impossible as being a “Lutheran anabaptist”. . A local congregation talking about Christ’s death every week again and again does not mean that these sectarians hope to influence other cultures.

    Machen–“Is there no refuge from strife? Is there no place where two or three can gather in Jesus’ name, to forget for the moment all those things that divide nation from nation and race from race, to forget human pride, to forget the passions of war, and to unite in overflowing gratitude at the foot of the Cross? If there be such a place, then that is the house of God …”

    https://oldlife.org/2009/12/01/why-not-lutheran-baptist/

    Romans 6 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that we too walk in a new way of life. .. 7 a person who has died is justified from sin’s claims…. 9 we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all time.

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  245. Hi there Robert,

    “Are you trusting in Jesus and only Jesus—not your good works in any way whatsoever—to secure your righteousness before God or not?”

    If I am relying on my own strength as in some kind of Stoic asceticism, then I am declaring that Jesus’s incarnation and sacrifice isn’t needed and that God’s grace is not operating in the world. That would be to deny the gospel of God’s humbling Himself and further, could never ever bring me new life, sanctification, or final glorification, because all of that is necessary to be born from above. It’s simply metaphysically *impossible* for anyone to impress God, storm heaven like a Titan, or earn heaven. What I won’t deny is God’s working in me to will and do for His good pleasure. I am called to be perfect, as Jesus said( and I take Him at His word), but only insofar as a creature can( this isn’t Mormonism afterall), and that happens by sancifying “grace”. This is why the Church can so heartily condemn Pelagianism. No one get to heaven without faith and love. Catholics talk a lot about grace:)

    If my friend back then, Randy, had not been a Baptist, but a Presbyterian, I would have gone to his church, and trusted the doctrine. If he had been a Lutheran or a Methodist, a Mennonite, Four Square, Church of Christ, EO,Catholic….same thing. But the question about which of all of these is the one that has Apostolic authority would have still been hanging over me.

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  246. Greg, no I caught it but to say your experience comports perfectly with scripture and history is just more arrogance. Try cold restarting your intuitionalizer and see if that helps.

    Re subjective experience, no, I’m saying whether it’s RC or Protestant it’s still subjectivism which confessional orthodoxy rejects as anything determinative whatsoever–you should know that as the resident biblical expert. Why don’t you point to Scripture, which is above anybody’s experience. Why elevate your experience to Scripture the way RCs do with tradition and declare her experience somehow impious?

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  247. Catholics certainly don’t point to a subjective experience only, or, at all, for intitial sanctification( since for many that happens at baptism), but they don’t deny either the spiritual nature of man to have consolation and/or a feeling of love and gratefulness towards God. Plus, Catholicism really looks to the sacraments to do what they signify—–give graces.

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  248. You have my word Jeff. I will read all three parts of you treatment of James 2. I am sincerely interested. You also have my word that it is not for the purpose of finding fault.

    In the interest of expedition due to the fact of my being presently buried here now, (sdb, I did see what you said and appreciate it) a couple things for the moment in response to THIS.

    First, etymology and grammar, meaning exegesis, does not always make or break an idea or doctrine by itself. in fact it may not even usually be the case. What a given text “says”, according to the lexical data and bare grammatical construction, in any language actually, is not necessarily what it “means.” Or sometimes all of what it means. Exposition is what gets us to what it means.

    The three major steps in interpretation:
    1. What does it say?

    2. What does it mean?

    3. How does it apply.

    To be direct, this statement:… “It is not grammatically possible to read this as saying that “works make our justification visible to others.” … is not persuasive by itself, even if fully true. The idea may be plainly present though entirely absent in the strict phraseology. Also, I’m not sure if you’re trying to trap me or not, but word form (i.e endings) carries more weight in Greek than word order. In that, it is very different than English. I hasten to clarify that I am NO Koine Greek scholar. I do however know just enough to not be lost in conversations like this.

    To sum up this point. I can gladly pretty much concede the rest of what you say above (which at first glance it’s looks like I might do) and still maintain that the passage teaches us that a man’s life is what establishes the credibility of his claim upon justification to those around him.

    In other words, when you say this: “So my answer to your question is “none of the above.” Rather, James is saying that our works fulfill our faith, in the sense of suitably flowing out of a living faith. Real faith will produce works.”, …despite you protestations to the contrary, you ARE agreeing with me. The entire Hebrews 11 hall of faith is one long catalog of what people did and how they lived. That’s why they’re there.

    To be clear, NO righteous person intentionally displays their righteousness to be seen of men. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that when a person pursues holiness as a life of grateful worship, others cannot help but see. That’s a major component in God’s purpose for producing personal sanctification in those claiming His name. He’s not gonna have a horde of unchanged world loving reprobates going about polluting His holy name. Never has, never will.

    WCF XVI:II
    II. These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the Gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.

    That section of the Confession says exactly what I’m saying.

    I could be wrong, but I can’t believe there’s much you disagree with in this comment.

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  249. D. G. Hart says:
    December 27, 2016 at 7:41 am
    JohnnY, who said natural law and common grace are fundamental to 2k? 2k is chiefly about the spirituality of the church. The church does (word and sacrament and prayer) what no other institution does. And the church leads to salvation, not the ministry of culture making. Some 2kers use NL, some CG. But all trust God to preserve social order for the advancement of the kingdom of grace. How we help to preserve that order is pragmatic.

    D. G. Hart says:
    December 27, 2016 at 7:45 am
    JohnnY, isn’t it the Christian’s duty to lead a quiet and peaceful life? Isn’t it the apostles and pastors duty to call people to repentance? Surely you’ve heard a little about ecclesiology and office since reading at Old Life.

    JohnnY: You have much more confidence and faith in the institutional church than I do. I don’t find much true Gospel in the institutional church these days but I have almost given up trying. If there is no Gospel than there really is no church. The most important question in this life is, what is the Gospel? For without it, fallen humanity has no true hope. The power is in the Gospel. The Gospel stands over the church and the church should be subservient to it. So, it is not the church that leads to salvation it is the Gospel that leads to salvation. And where the Gospel is the church is. There is no compromise in regards to the Gospel. The church should constantly be asking itself if it is faithfully proclaiming and teaching the true Gospel. The churches authority only goes as far as it is faithful in regards to feeding the sheep with the Gospel. Who is really proclaiming and teaching the true Gospel at oldlife? That should be the question we are most concerned about. I’m closer to DGH and the oldlife regulars than I am to Greg and Ali. I know that much. However, I don’t have the faith in the institutional church that the oldlife regulars have.

    I don’t know how God preserves order in the social realm. I think Luther and Calvin got in trouble by meddling in those type of affairs. I tended to agree with Hunter in Zrims quote awhile back. I would chose 2K over theonomy but many others have thought through Christianity and social issue too. 2K is not the only kid on the block.

    That probably is not a sufficient answer but I gave a wing at it.

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  250. I still want to respond to Jeff’s comments and Greg’s comment about the atonement. That will have to wait until tomorrow while I am on the Amtrak on my way to Chicago to see my 93 year old mother. I have not seen her in over 4 years.

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  251. DGH, I’m miffed over the comment about maybe running into each other at a West Michigan hockey game. I’m assuming you are talking about the hockey played at the Van Andel arena in Grand Rapids. Do you really go to a lot of those games or were you just making a cryptic remark? Do you go with the other Machen warrior children that frequent oldlife?

    I have always wondered what kind of cigarette you are smoking in that picture next to your commbox. It looks like you are pulling all the smoke in one gigantic inhale. Or, maybe like me you do not really inhale.

    Do any of you oldlifers who live in the Grand Rapids area know of any churches near the Grand Haven area that I might find some fellowship in? A church where the sheep get fed with the Gospel?

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  252. Zrim says: “Greg, no I caught it but to say your experience comports perfectly with scripture and history is just more arrogance.”

    What I mean is that what scripture teaches somebody should expect becoming a Christian and living a Christian life, is precisely what has happened to me. This is a declaration of the faithfulness of God though His word, and the assurance that gives me of the accuracy of what I perceive having learned from how my life has played out to this point. He has given the categories with which to interpret and understand my conversion experience.

    I was not in any way implying that anything I myself am or did was perfect according to scripture.

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  253. sdb, lemme stop here for a minute:
    Your formulation suggests that every believer goes through a sort of crisis conversion.

    No no NOOOOO! 🙂 Multitudes of people have been born into a family of faith and have no specific discernible point in time they can look to where they remember specifically receiving Christ. That has only come up once I think, but I have said that very thing here before too.
    —————————————————————
    “As a 17yro, lust, unwholesome language, and cheating were all sins I struggled against – sometimes failing and turning to Christ in repentance.”

    And here is where we arrive at my point. Did the pagan 17 year olds you knew have these struggles and consider failure in them a grievous thing for which they should ask the Lord’s forgiveness? If not the you were different than them. I assume you also prayed for strength to represent him more faithfully by not repeating those failures? (though, like all of us, you probably still did a zillion times)

    I was simply telling how God changed MY life. The application in your case of what I meant by that general set of principles being the same for everyone, was that certainly you believe you were a different 17 and now 27 year old than you would have been had you not received Christ at 7. Or am I wrong?

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  254. Susan, “the question about which of all of these is the one that has Apostolic authority would have still been hanging over me.”

    The Orthodox have apostolic authority. You think there’s only one ancient church. In point of fact, Christianity started Eastern (not Roman).

    Please think.

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  255. JohnnY, unless you’re going to self-minister the gospel, you’re going to go to a church. God did give us the pastoral epistles for a reason. Church up.

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  256. Why do Curt and Pope Francis sound so similar?

    “The manger invites us to break with the logic of exceptions for some and exclusion for others,” he said. “God himself comes to shatter the chains of privilege that always cause exclusion, in order to introduce the caress of compassion that brings inclusion, that makes the dignity of each person shine forth, the dignity for which he or she was created.”

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  257. While reading through some of the Where’s Waldo posts from 2011 the following exchange between McMark and Jeff Cagle brings the competing views of union with Christ into a sharper focus. As far as I could tell (although I did not read all the posts that followed) no resolution was ever reached and the debate still continues today. Here is what McMark said:

    Jeff, I also wanted to say something about why this seems important to me. Not long ago, our host (DGH) said that we wouldn’t want to say that justification is caused by our sanctification. But several versions of “unionism” end up saying something not much different from that.

    Like the Galatian false teachers, those like Norman Shepherd who say sanctification is by instrumental faith that works are not saying that sin causes people to lose their justification. They are not necessarily denying imputation. They are simply saying that other things come first.

    They are merely saying that you need to be sanctified also, and also that sanctification IS by instrumental faith that works. Since both justification and sanctification are the results of “union” with Christ, they remind us, to be saved we need also a “righteousness of Christ” which is now found in us.

    This of course means that salvation takes time. You can’t be justified at once, because you need to be sanctified to be justified, not of course that sanctification is the basis for justification, but “union with Christ” means that you have both, and for both you need time.

    Jeff, I am not trying to associate you with Norman Shepherd. I am trying to get back to McCormack’s concern about Calvin putting regeneration before the imputation. If regeneration comes first, then regeneration becomes the gospel, and justification will have to take a lesser place. And that will mean that the atonement will have to take up less place in the gospel.

    I am certainly not denying that the gospel message includes the message about the work of the Holy Spirit. But if the Holy Spirit is the one who gives you Christ, and only after that does God impute you with the righteousness of Christ, then the focus is no longer going to be on Christ’s work outside us.

    In this alternative gospel, which I reject, the Holy Spirit giving you righteousness on the inside will depend on your working at it, and for that you need the rest of your life. And since you are not on your death bed, you need to know that your judicial success on the last day depends on your working.

    The Galatians parallel is real. Both parties in the dispute are open to the idea that some in the other party are lost, never justified, not even Christians. The “you can be sanctified also (by works)” party is saying sanctification is the evidence of justification. You are not justified by circumcision, but sanctification is by circumcision, and if you won’t get sanctified (more), then that means you were never justified, because both are the results of “real” union with Jesus “the person”.

    Paul is the other person in the Galatians controversy. He also thinks some in the other party may not be Christians. If you get yourself circumcised to get blessing, it doesn’t matter if it’s for justification or sanctification, “Christ will be of no profit to you.”. Don’t do it. I warn you. Don’t attempt to be sanctified by means of “union” with the resurrected power of Jesus so that you will be able to work for it.

    If justification is by grace but sanctification is by “synergism”, then Christ died in vain for sanctification? No, that’s not what Galatians 2:21 says. If any part of the blessing is by works, then Christ died to NO purpose. Paul doesn’t seem to be a balanced “perspectives” kind of guy.

    Paul doesn’t say: well, some of us are just more “gospel awake” than others who tend to be a bit “legalistic”. Paul insists: if the extra stuff (sanctification, rewards, punishments) depends on using our regeneration power to obey the law, then Christ died in vain.

    https://oldlife.org/…/wheres-waldo-wednesday-whats-at-stake/

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  258. How talk of individual election and the motivation to be ambassadors for Christ’s redemptive plan go hand in hand. This negates the accusation that those who incessantly want to talk about individual election are really hyper-Calvinists who don’t care about telling others about the Gospel. Although, I am hearing that only the qualified clergy should be doing the ambassador for Christ labor by most oldlife regulars.

    mark mcculley says:
    December 8, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Why would anybody who is not among the elect tend faithfully to the sacraments of the Roman Catholic church? Why would non-elect folks have a taste for that kind of thinking?

    In Call of Grace, Norman Shepherd tells us to stop talking about individual election and to address everybody who hears the gospel as the elect. And this has come to be called the “federal vision”.

    II Corinthians 5: 15—“And He died for all, that those who live would no longer live for themselves, but for Him who for their sake both died and was raised.”

    Who are the all? Is the verse talking to everybody? Or is II Corinthians 5:15 only talking to Christians? If Christ did not die for a person, how in the world could that person be commanded to live for Him who died for Him.?

    Those who teach an universal atonement (which then fails to atone!) use II Corinthians 5:15 to try to prove that Christ died for everybody. They assume that we want to tell everybody to live for Christ. The false gospel tells us, that, in order to tell everybody what to do, we first need to tell them that Christ died for them.

    II Corinthians 5:15 is about a substitutionary representation. The same all for whom Christ died is the all who died. This death is not the new birth. This death is death by imputation, legal union with Christ. Romans 6:3 explains: “to be baptized into Christ is to be baptized into His death.”

    Which people are being addressed by II Cor 5:15? Who is Paul talking to? And when the ambassadors say “be ye reconciled”, who are they talking to? It is not “revivalism” to ask: are you in the new covenant yet? Have you even been justified yet? Are you reading somebody else’s mail?

    Surely we know that God will not start loving a person. Either God already loves a person or not. Surely God will not start loving a person conditioned on that person doing something or accepting something. How then do you know if you are one of the ones God loves and for whom Christ died?

    II Corinthians 5:10—“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us will receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or bad.”

    Since the judgment for all whom God loves (the elect) has already happened at the cross, there will no future judgment for Christians. There will not even be a side-judgment where extra goodies and rewards are passed out.
    Why then is the text, II Corinthians 5, which is talking to Christians, bringing up the judgment? The answer is that Christians are being told in this text that they are “ambassadors”, not to each other but rather to those who are still lost
    So the question becomes if we are ambassadors in church? Or is Norman Shepherd correct, and being ambassadors is only for when we are outside church? Are we to assume that everybody who is regularly hearing the preaching is elect and believing the gospel?

    Some of those who are still lost are the elect, who even though God loves them and has always loved them, are right now ignorant of the gospel. And since the ambassadors to whom Paul is talking don’t know which of the lost are elect or not, they are to present the good news to all sinners, and to command all sinners to “ be reconciled”. The ambassadors don’t say: some of you have already received the reconciliation but just don’t know it.

    The reconciliation is received passively (by imputation) and that has not yet happened for those who are still ignorant of the gospel and still living in legalism. Look back at the time language of Romans 5:10-11—“now that we are reconciled, we shall be saved by His resurrection. We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

    So why is Paul bringing up the judgment seat, when Christians have already passed through the judgment by imputation? Paul brings up “the fear of God” (Ii Corinthians 5:11) because the justified ambassadors need to remember that there are lost people around them who have not yet been justified who need to hear the gospel and be commanded to be reconciled.

    We don’t say: well if Christ died for them, then they are already reconciled and justified. They are not. Nor do we say: well, anyway, it’s sure to happen. God works in history. God imputes in time what Christ has paid for in time. And God uses the gospel as the message heard and believed by the elect as they are being justified.

    II Corinthians 5:20—“we implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
    Even though the chapter is addressed to Christians only, the message taken by Christians to the lost is not for the elect only. “Be ye reconciled” is for those who have not yet been already justified.

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  259. “The Orthodox have apostolic authority. You think there’s only one ancient church. In point of fact, Christianity started Eastern (not Roman).”
    True, but it didn’t stay in one locality( Mark 16:15), and this is something I have acknowledged in the past here on this site. But yes, I had to differentiate between them as well ( especially since my former Reformed assistant pastor became EO 2 years before I converted)
    There is more alike between the two then they both have in common with Protestantism, as you clearly see. You’re getting warmer, Darryl. I wonder if Greg considers this when he calls Catholics idolaters, blasphemers and heretics?
    Patriarchs in the East sent legates, and monks went on their own accord, *to the see of Rome* for help against Monophysite Emperors (and clergy who followed governmental sway) during the years of the Iconoclast persecutions. This is all in the history books. I was looking for/toward that authority too; the authorised one that comported with Matthew 16:18. That, and tradition that included the brilliancy of Aquinas.

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  260. And this quote from Ribberdos that Lily directed towards Zrim is relevant to my discussions with Greg about Spirit caused and enabled changes in our conduct. Does the Gospel believer have dominion over sin by Spirit mortification of sin or is dominion over sin caused by not being under law but under grace?

    Quote #1- Lily to Zrim: “I would like to offer a quote you may appreciate. Herman Ridderbos summarizes a shift that took place following Calvin and Luther this way:
    “While in Calvin and Luther all the emphasis fell on the redemptive event that took place with Christ’s death and resurrection, later under the influence of pietism, mysticism and moralism, the emphasis shifted to the individual appropriation of the salvation given in Christ and to it’s mystical and moral effect in the life of the believer. Accordingly, in the history of the interpretation of the epistles of Paul the center of gravity shifted more and from the forensic to the pneumatic and ethical aspects of his preaching, and there arose an entirely different conception of the structures that lay at the foundation of Paul’s Preaching.”
    I don’t know the Reformed theologians so I don’t know if he’s one of the solid guys or one who needs to be read with discernment?

    Quote #2- Commentary on Romans chapter 6 by McMark: “14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

    John Y: So, do we overcome the dominion of sin in our lives by the the enabling power of the Holy Spirit that strengthens our wills in our efforts to obey God and resist sin? Does the Holy Spirit diminish the power of our flesh and give us more sanctified desires and a hatred of our own sin? Is this how you grow in your Christian life? I know I used to think that that is how you grow in grace? I don’t think that anymore. Does Paul say anything about the enabling power of the Holy Spirit in Romans chapter 6? It is in that chapter that Paul tells us that sin will have no dominion over us. He also says that the cause of sin not having dominion over us is due to the fact that we (the elect) are not under law but under grace:

    McMark: “you are asking some big questions (John Y: McMark not talking to me in this quote), like “what is sanctification”. Like AW Pink, I am not too happy with the “more and more” answer of the Confessions. But I would refer you to sanctification by the Spirit in effectual calling (II Thess 2:13) and sanctification by the blood (Hebrews 10:10-14) and a good book by David Petersen (Possessed by God) challenging Ryle’s ideas on holiness.

    For the purposes of this thread, I think your question about Romans 6 is most relevant, because that chapter is about Christ the forensic representative of the elect first being under condemnation, sin and death.

    Romans 6:7 “For one who has died has been justified from sin. 8 Now since we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death NO LONGER has dominion over him. 10For the death he died HE DIED TO SIN once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

    Christ was never under grace and is still not under grace. Christ was under the law because of the imputed sins of the elect. Romans 6 is about Christ’s condemnation by the law and His death as satisfaction of that law. Christ after His resurrection is no longer under law.

    The death of the justified elect is that VERY SAME legal death. The resurrection of the justified elect in Romans 6 is the result of that justification from being under law.

    Christ was never under the power of sin in the sense of being unable not to sin. Christ was always unable to sin. The only way Christ was ever under the power of sin is by being under the guilt of sin. The guilt of the elect’s sin was legally transferred by God to Christ.

    Christ’s death to sin was death to the guilt of sin, and since the elect are united with a death like his, the death of the elect is also a death to the guilt of sin. And this is what Romans 6:7 teaches: “For one who has died has been justified from sin.”

    Yet many commentators tell us that “set free from sin” must mean the elect’s transformation by grace and by the Spirit so that the justified elect cannot habitually sin (or that their new nature cannot sin) They tell us that justification was in chapter five and that chapter six must be about something more if it’s to be a “real answer” to the question “why not sin?”.

    But Christ was never under the power of habitual sin or any sin, and the death of the elect is like His death.
    Romans 6:10, “For the death He died He died to sin.” When the elect consider themselves dead to sin and alive to God, they think of themselves as dead to the guilt of sin. Death to the guilt of sin means legal life before God.

    Romans 6:14 does not say, For sin shall not be your master, because the Holy Spirit has changed you so that you cannot habitually sin, but only occasionally and always with repentance. Romans 6:14 says, “For sin shall not by your master, because you are not under law but under grace.”

    Christ also died to purchase every blessing, including the giving of the Spirit and our believing the gospel. But it is not believing which frees the elect from the guilt of sin. It’s being legally joined (Romans 6 says “baptized into” not “baptized by the Spirit into) to Christ’s death.

    Christ died instead of the elect for whom He died. When the elect are legally placed into that death, this legal act by God frees the justified elect from guilt.”

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  261. Darryl,

    I noticed that you said that the Orthodox have authority. Did you mean that they merely think they have authority or that apostolic succession as understood by both Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox is a real thing and different from what Protestants think it is? Do you believe they have honest to goodness laying on of hands from a disciple of Jesus? I do.

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  262. Susan, all I meant is that by the logic of the Roman Catholic triumphalist converts (the Yankees fans), the Eastern Orthodox have authority. In that case, the converts have to choose just like Protestants pick between Baptists and Methodists.

    It means “the-church-Christ-founded” gong is merely clashing cymbals. (See what I did there? Or do you no longer read or remember the Bible?)

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  263. “Your formulation suggests that every believer goes through a sort of crisis conversion.”
    No no NOOOOO!🙂 Multitudes of people have been born into a family of faith and have no specific discernible point in time they can look to where they remember specifically receiving Christ. That has only come up once I think, but I have said that very thing here before too.

    Ok. We agree here. Many people can not point back to a discernible point where they remember receiving Christ. So let’s look at your dead simple, idiot proof question again:


    External justification and internal regeneration always come together and always result in a changed life that those around us can see. True or false?

    So if I (and presumably those around me) can’t point to a pre-conversion state, is it fair to say that your statement is false? Regeneration+Justification to not always result in a changed life that those around us can see.

    “As a 17yro, lust, unwholesome language, and cheating were all sins I struggled against – sometimes failing and turning to Christ in repentance.”

    And here is where we arrive at my point. Did the pagan 17 year olds you knew have these struggles and consider failure in them a grievous thing for which they should ask the Lord’s forgiveness? If not the you were different than them. I assume you also prayed for strength to represent him more faithfully by not repeating those failures? (though, like all of us, you probably still did a zillion times)

    I don’t recall knowing any pagans in high school, but I knew a few devout RCs, Mormons, and a Jehovah’s witness kid who were awfully pious – I’m not sure that I was different from them in a way that those around me could see. Whitewashed tombs look white to those around them.

    I was simply telling how God changed MY life. The application in your case of what I meant by that general set of principles being the same for everyone, was that certainly you believe you were a different 17 and now 27 year old than you would have been had you not received Christ at 7. Or am I wrong?

    You’re wrong. I haven’t been a 27 year old in a long, long time….

    Seriously though – you are asking a different question now. I don’t think any of the reformed commenters here is going to argue that being a believer does not entail any change. The question is the extent to which that change is visible to those around us (the other question floating around is the impact believers have on “society”, but let’s leave that aside for now). Insofar as the change is relative to a counterfactual, it isn’t. I think it is more than just a change relative to a counterfactual, and that is described in the confessions – however, it is also something that is more internal than external (i.e., something those around us aren’t going to see).

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  264. sbd, ding. So IOW, this is the difference between the experientially (look at mmmmmeeeeee!) and confessionally Reformed (look to Christ).

    (the other question floating around is the impact believers have on “society”, but let’s leave that aside for now).

    Right, wouldn’t want the point of the post to get in the way of the rabbit trail.

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  265. @z yeah. My thumbs were wearing out…I should be more concise!

    As far as society goes, I’m pretty sure all concerned agree that sanctification doesn’t make us better at military strategy, solving differential equations, or implementing agricultural policy. So it is hrad to see how more believers will enhance common competency. Indeed, insofar as talented individuals find their skill is an occasion for idolatry (think Zwingli giving up the organ), one could find that such a society gets “worse”.

    Secondly we have to deal with the empirical facts. Was Rome a better place to live in 450 AD than 20AD? Certainly more Christian, but I think most agree thatliving in a city under the threat of barbarian rampage is not better than a city experiencing Pax Romana. Fast forwarding to Christian nations, the homicide rate in Britain today is half of what it was in the age of Spurgeon, and a tenth of what it was during the days of the Westminster divines. Japan (where only about 2% identify as anything remotely related to Christianity), has a homicide rate that is a tenth of the US. Within the US, with the exception of Utah, church attendance is inversely proportional to teen pregnancy, overall crime, and homicide rate (Vermont is better than Mississippi on almost all measures of social health). We have seen the fraction of the US that is religiously unaffiliated explode the past quarter century while the abortion and crime rate has collapsed. Whatever connection there is between the rate of adherence to Christianity in a society and various indicators of social health, is not obvious. Environmental lead toxins and the average of a country appear to be the most important.

    It is worth noting that scripture indicates that God has chosen the least of these rather than the elite – Abraham and his descendants rather than one of the Pharaohs and his descendants. Jesus picked fishermen and tax collectors from the hinderlands rather than poets, intellectuals, and other creatives from Rome. Paul notes that the church wasn’t exactly brimming with one percenters. I’ve never been convinced by the attempts to justify the neocal culture making priorities and emphasis of bagging the big namers in light of the NT precedent. Of course when it is the lame, loser, slaves getting saved you might not expect much in the way of cultural transformation and their baggage might not let them look as spiffy as the whitewashed tombs leading culture in the big apple.

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  266. @sdb

    Read my idiot proof question as referring to those receiving Christ past childhood please.

    Her is Idiot proof question v.1a:
    If a person is saved as a child, does that person grow into an adult who is as different as the pagans around them, as the person saved past childhood eventually grows into as per my idiot proof question v.1?

    In other words, should we expect Christians to be different than pagans? Do we not have biblical (and confessional) warrant for expecting a 27 year old to think and act like a disciple of Christ no matter whether he was saved at 7 or 20?

    That’s the point.

    I also misunderstood you to be saying you were 27. Sorry about that.

    “I don’t recall knowing any pagans in high school, but I knew a few devout RCs, Mormons, and a Jehovah’s witness kid who were awfully pious – I’m not sure that I was different from them in a way that those around me could see. Whitewashed tombs look white to those around them.”

    Did you tell them the gospel? (That’s a serious question)

    ” however, it is also something that is more internal than external (i.e., something those around us aren’t going to see).”

    WCF XVI:II
    II. These good works, done in OBEDIENCE to God’s commandments, are the fruits and EVIDENCES of a true and lively faith and by them believers MANIFEST their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, ADORN the profession of the Gospel, STOP THE MOUTHS OF ADVERSARIES, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life

    Emphasis mine.

    I would be very keen to hear about the invisible nature of the things in WCF XVI:II above.

    I AM really tired. Long day. That’s the best I can do for tonight.

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  267. Zrim says: sbd, ding. So IOW, this is the difference between the experientially (look at mmmmmeeeeee!) and confessionally Reformed (look to Christ).

    Everyone’s testimony is about what God has done for them- each testimony is unique, just as He wills it – each one, too, is the same in that:

    Colossians 1 the word of truth, the gospel 6 has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;
    12 the Father has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach

    Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

    As far as ‘seeing’ His work in/thru us – Jesus’s exhortation: Matthew 5: 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

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  268. John Y: As far as I could tell (although I did not read all the posts that followed) no resolution was ever reached and the debate [over union] still continues today.

    Actually, I would say that some kind of detente was reached. Certainly, my position shifted somewhat, in the following ways.

    (1) Whereas previously, I believed that it was outside the Reformed faith to think of justification as logically prior to union, it was brought to my attention (RL, David R) that several Reformed folk taught exactly that, but in a nuanced way — notable, Ursinus and Hodge the Younger.

    My objection was on the grounds that justification => union removed any notion of “justification by faith” and replaced it with “justification by election” (or “by imputation”). The objection was partially satisfied in that, for Ursinus, justification is conceived as a two-part process (objective judicial standing, subjective reception of same), the latter part being received by faith.

    I don’t fully agree with that point of view, but I see it as falling within the realm of legitimate possible teachings, where I previously did not.

    (2) Whereas previously, I took for granted that people understood that union with Christ consisted of distinct forensic and transformative components, I now understand that this distinction needs to be made explicit in conversation, for the simple reason that some formulations of union tend to blur or obliterate that distinction.

    I would like to hope that on the other side, it became more clear that not all “union priority” folk are seeking to overthrow ordo salutis concepts. And I would say that Horton and Fesko are two who seem to be comfortable with both formulations (union, ordo) as complementary perspectives on soteriology.

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  269. Jeff, it seemed to be the case that all contemporary studies of union sought to blur the distinctions and flatten out the duplex gratia while relegating forensic priority of justification to ‘Lutheran'(bad) soteriological formulations. ‘I see deceptive people’. The dance with Murray and novelty continues relatively unabated transitioning from, ‘that’s Lutheran-antinomian’ to ‘that’s not what I meant’. But you’re more generous than I am. I can only imagine where we’d be on union without the significant push back.

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  270. sdb, ding overall again.

    As far as society goes, I’m pretty sure all concerned agree that sanctification doesn’t make us better at military strategy, solving differential equations, or implementing agricultural policy.

    But not so sure here. Seems like some concerned here disagree and think faith does indeed have direct and obvious bearing on provisional life to lesser or greater degrees.

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  271. Ali, but some of us would rather speak of personal histories than testimonies. Personal histories by definition are indeed unique. But to the extent that every believer “was once lost but is now found” testimonies really aren’t, and the categories represent something fundamentally different about the experiential piety versus the confessional piety. Testimonies are a tacky, anthropocentric and pious justification for the self-indulgence of religious affect which characterize the hyper-spiritual. Histories are simply what they are, inevitable and void of any attempt to exalt the self and its experiences.

    None of your texts do anything to support what is commonly referred to a “personal testimonies.” They are descriptive of every believer, thus not unique. Paul actually gives an example of a personal history

    If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

    That’s a unique history and sounds nothing like typical look-at-me-airing-of dirty-laundry-humble-bragging that mark so-called testimonies.

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  272. Read my idiot proof question as referring to those receiving Christ past childhood please.

    OK. Now we are getting into qualifications. I suspect that if we continue down this road, we are going to land on something very similar to what I wrote in my (overly) wrong response to you about what I believe about sanctification (as described in the Belgic confession).

    Her is Idiot proof question v.1a:
    If a person is saved as a child, does that person grow into an adult who is as different as the pagans around them, as the person saved past childhood eventually grows into as per my idiot proof question v.1?

    In other words, should we expect Christians to be different than pagans? Do we not have biblical (and confessional) warrant for expecting a 27 year old to think and act like a disciple of Christ no matter whether he was saved at 7 or 20?

    That’s the point.

    As I noted (in my horribly formatted response – sorry!), I don’t think any of the reformed commenters here are going to dispute that sanctification entails change. The question is what that change looks like externally and the influence that change has on common endeavors.

    You keep referring to pagans. I suspect you don’t literally mean pagans, but are using it as a catchall for non-believers. But doesn’t it depend on the unbeliever in question? Details matter! The lost moralist looking to his own good works for salvation may not look superficially different from a believer. In fact, such a person may look better in many ways. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a change in the believer’s life. Nor does it mean that the meth addicted Hell’s Angel’s members who comes to Christ isn’t going to evince a dramatic change in behavior (…and such were some of you…). Maybe that is your story – if so, I’m glad and would not want to suggest that it is in some way invalid. But that isn’t the case for everyone. There really are those who live moral, upright lives that are totally lost. They need Christ too, and their sanctification will result in real changes in their life. But those changes may not be noticeable to those around them.

    As Jeff also noted above, we don’t dispute that there is change. It is when you add to the confession (and I would argue to scripture) that bit about “that those around us can see”, that we have a problem. To summarize:

    1) For some who come to Christ – there is no discernible change because they grew up in the faith. The change is relative to a counterfactual.
    2) Difference relative to other unbelievers can be problematic as it depends who you have in mind – relative to the gang banger or the mormon moralist – and who is doing the comparing.
    3) Even believers can fall into serious sins that make them look really bad even compared to the gang bangers, and these can be public sins that those around us can see.

    I would be very keen to hear about the invisible nature of the things in WCF XVI:II above.

    I would start in chapter 13:


    I. They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

    All those who are regenerated are also sanctified which entails the weakening of the flesh, the strengthening of the spirit, and an increase in the practice of holiness. But…

    II. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence arises a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.

    It isn’t completed on this side of glory, so we are never perfected. which means that

    III. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail; yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part does overcome; and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

    We grow in grace, but it isn’t a linear growth (this is the point of the text I provided from the Belgic confession). For a time, remaining corruption may prevail. During that time, the changes occurring within you will not be something that all around us can see.

    This is the context within which we must read the following chapter XVI that you quoted. It is true that sanctification produces all of those things in the life of a believer for all of those reasons. But as we see from chapter XIII, it isn’t always something those around us can see (which you have asserted). If we go down to article VII of chapter XVI, we will also see that,

    VII. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others: yet, because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God: and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God.

    The key thing here is that unregenerate men can do things that look outwardly like the things that regenerate men do. But because they don’t come from a hear purified by faith (i.e., something internal and not a thing those around us can see), are bound by the word of God (i.e., motivated correctly – not a thing those around us can see), or done for the glory of God (ditto) these works are dead. So we go back to the qualifier you insist on – “that those around us can see” – your statement is false.

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  273. Zrim says: Ali, but some of us would rather speak of personal histories than testimonies. Testimonies are a tacky, anthropocentric and pious justification for the self-indulgence of religious affect which characterize the hyper-spiritual. Paul actually gives an example of a personal history…That’s a unique history and sounds nothing like typical look-at-me-airing-of dirty-laundry-humble-bragging that mark so-called testimonies.

    Zrim , no need to quabble about the exact word to use (unless you want to), though the Lord seems to like the word testimony, so don’ think that word’s a problem. Also, Paul’s testimony is not what you quote above, but is his personal encounter with the risen Lord and what the Lord did for him:

    Paul (paraphrase)
    I persecuted this Way to the death but on my way to Damascus a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’ And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ and the Lord told me….

    I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions but God had set me apart from my mother’s womb, and called me through His grace, and was pleased to reveal His Son in me.

    Even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor, I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
    Acts 22:4-11; Gal 1:3-16; 1 Tim 1:13-16

    And none of that was to ‘humble brag’ as you say, but for God’s glory as Paul says :And they were glorifying God because of me.(Gal; 1:24); Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Tim 1:17)

    And there would but no reason we ought not think the same reason for Greg sharing his own testimony, unless, of course, one wants to impose their own personal judgment of his motives

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  274. Ali, well one reason is how Greg comes across as having delusions of apostleship, you know, biblically smarter than 95% of Christians in America and a superior experience to Susan. When Greg speaks one gets the sense that he’s simply aping his favorite writer, including Paul, though funny how Paul doesn’t sound like St. Greg (or Ali).

    But I’d expect you’d render the distinctions made between testimony and history mere quibbling. Experientialists aren’t long on such things. Squirrel! Feel the burning in the bosom, hallelujah and aymenah!

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  275. You’re killin me Steve, jist KILLIN me.

    Think of how productive a conversation about these every things could be for everybody. But no. Yer afraid I’m gonna reach through my monitor and thump yer melon or something. Tsk, tsk.

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  276. Jeff, I wanted to directly respond to an earlier comment that I started to respond to but never finished:

    Jeff C says: (1) The phrase “spiritual journey” is way over-used. But it is true that the Spirit leads us in small steps and in non-straight paths at times. So it is entirely possible for someone to change views, and change views yet again. The Scripture is invariantly true; our views, not so much.

    John Y: Yeah, I agree with that. Eventually the elect hear the words of the Good Shepherd and won’t listen to the voice of strangers. I still waver sometimes in my assurance that I am really listening to the words of the Good Shepherd. Most days though, I am pretty confident that I am. It does not depend on my performance for the Good Shepherd to keep me in the fold. And I am not saying, like Ali accused me of and put words in my mouth, that I can do what I want and Jesus does not care. I could go off in a tangent but I will try to stay on track with your comments. I do agree that the Scriptures are where the truth is found and we have that stuff underneath that can twist the truth very easily. I do believe there is such a thing as false assurance but not the way Greg and Ali understand it. I think if we are basing our assurance on our performance than we are not understanding biblical assurance.

    (2) Jeff C says: The appeal of “hyper-Cal” is understandable. It removes from the equation any possibility of our salvation being contingent upon our efforts.

    John Y: I think we need a more clear definition of Hyper-Cal. What beliefs make one a hyper-Cal? I think I answered that in the quote from McMark and the Corinthian passages. I think the Gospel has to be taught accurately for the effectual call to occur. So, I do not believe that we can take the attitude that God will call people without us as agents teaching and proclaiming the accurate Gospel. In other words, I do have a motive to be an ambassador for Christ and tell people to receive the reconciliation that the Gospel promises. I do believe that election, definitive atonement and the imputation of righteousness have to be included in the teaching of the Gospel. I also believe in the Speech/Act theory that Horton talks about in his book, COVENANT AND SALVATION, UNION WITH CHRIST. It is God declaring an ungodly person baptized into His Son that is the cause of the Spirit effectually calling His elect. This is what persuades the sinner to repent and believe the Gospel. I think effectual call better describes what happens to the ungodly than regeneration. Regeneration implies some ontological change in the ungodly where speech/act implies more persuasive powers in the mind and heart of the elect. Many people believe that people can get converted by the work of the Spirit without being taught the Gospel. I don’t believe that. And I don’t think conversion is a long process. The cause of conversion is being baptized into the death of Christ (the transfer or imputation) and God declaring the person justified after the effectual call by the Spirit working with the Word of the Gospel.

    (3) Jeff C says: “Fulfilling the Law” is a legitimately Biblical phrase. Consider Paul:

    John Y: Jeff also says this: “It is clear that both Paul and James are encouraging, strongly, that believers love one another and thereby seek to do what the Law says. At the same time, it is clear that both Paul and James are pessimistic about believers’ abilities to keep the demands of the Law.” John Y: I agree.

    Jeff also says this: “God offers a two-fold or two-part solution: First, condemning our sin in the flesh of Christ: imputation. Second, and flowing from that, giving the Spirit who wars against the flesh: infusion.

    The actual fulfilling of the Law, the meeting of its requirements, takes place forensically. The natural outflow of that fact is thus that we walk according to the Spirit.”

    John Y: I think I answered my beliefs about this in an earlier post but I will try to reply to the words you used. I think condemning our sin in the flesh is the same thing as being baptized into Christ (or crucified with Christ) that Romans 6 speaks of. I think the “dominion of sin” is dealt with by taking away the guilt and condemnation that our failure to obey the Law convicts us of. The elect are no longer under the law but under grace and the work that Christ accomplished in his atonement for his sheep.

    Show me somewhere in Scripture, Jeff, where the Spirit “wars” against the flesh. Show me where the Scriptures hint or imply some kind of infusion of the Spirit. This is where I think speech/act theory comes into play again. We are sanctified by the blood and sanctified by the Spirit by the Words spoken in the Scripture. Jesus told his disciples that the Word I have spoken to you has cleansed you (or sanctified you). Horton talked extensively about this in his book, COVENANT AND SALVATION.

    The actual fulfilling of the Law, the meeting of its requirements, takes place forensically. John Y: I agree

    The natural outflow of that fact is thus that we walk according to the Spirit. John Y: I want a more clear definition of “walk according to the Spirit.” I think that means, believe the Gospel and be assured that your guilt and condemnation have been dealt with so you can now do good to your neighbors. And the warning don’t use this freedom from guilt and condemnation to serve unrighteousness. Present your members as instruments of righteousness. Like you said earlier, I still think we don’t do this very well due to our still indwelling sin but through repeated failure we learn to not work in the power of our flesh but through believing the Gospel, i.e. walking in the Spirit.

    (4) Really skeptical of a “non-ecclesiology.” My basic metaphor for church is a marriage relationship, and anyone who comes out talking of “non-ecclesiologies” sounds like a guy asking for an open marriage.

    John Y: I will accept that rebuke and exhortation. Tell me of a church that is accurately proclaiming and teaching the Gospel and I will be there. However, I don’t even have a car to get anywhere these days. I can go to work because I only live 2 blocks away from where I work. I’m still recovering from the way family members dealt with my issues and the consequences of my repeated failures. Try changing your career in your mid-50’s with knees that need knee replacement surgery. Poor, poor pitiful me, poor poor pitiful me. Just sayin. I’m fortunate I am still alive. And I am giving Ali and Greg ammunition to pour more calls to repentance on me. Like I have not heard that from family members and others over and over again.

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  277. Greg and Zrim are reminded me of Paul Mananta and Zrim. Zrim, I used to pick fights with the ex-drug dealers and willful gang bangers who brought their intimidation tactics into the rehabs with them. I mean verbal fights not physical fights. I had to leave one rehab because I thought they were going to get me one day when the staff was not around.

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  278. John, good call. Some of us have a weak spot for putting sticks in the spokes of chest-thumpers–it’s irresistible.

    ps Grand Haven is the southwest (and Dutch) version of northwestern Traverse City. When we can’t get home to the latter in the summers, we take the next best thing in the former.

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  279. Dear John,

    I wish you lived close enough to visit with us.

    John Y: Show me somewhere in Scripture, Jeff, where the Spirit “wars” against the flesh.

    But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. — Gal 5.16-18 ESV

    The term “war against” is a bit of a (Confessional) gloss, I confess, but it is intended to capture the intensity of Paul’s image: the Spirit of God literally opposes the desires of the flesh in us and contends within us in order to “keep us from doing the things we want.”

    John Y: Show me where the Scriptures hint or imply some kind of infusion of the Spirit

    What do you make of these: Rom 8.9, Eph 1.14, 4.30, Gal 3.2, 3.5, 3.14, 4.6?

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  280. “Infusion” is not a word that the Bible uses to describe indwelling presence and work of Christ and His Holy Spirit.

    Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

    Ephesians 1:14 the promised Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory.

    Ephesians 4:30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption. 31 All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

    Galatians 4: 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!”

    Christ, besides being the one who purchased all the blessings of salvation for the elect by His death, now does two great works. Christ both indwells (lives in) the justified and also intercedes (in heaven) for the elect.

    The indwelling—- Where faith is, Christ is. Luther was certainly correct about this truth, but it’s a mistake to indentify righteousness with our faith in the righteousness, or to identify Christ’s righteousness with Christ’s life inside us (as Osiander did.)

    Christ’s death to earn righteousness for the elect was done outside of the elect, instead of elect sinners, with Christ’s death replacing what elect sinners do. The righteousness of Christ’s death when imputed is still outside of the elect. Bunyan explained— the righteousness still belongs to Christ and is in heaven. The righteousness belongs not in my lonely inside but also to all the elect. https://books.google.com/books?id=q8y-TYPvhOcC&pg=PA162&lpg=PA162&dq=infusion+osiander&source=bl&ots=F8H_UVaDSq&sig=2HXgCBYZUERWuPkJ3Z7luYkapf0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi5x-bIlabRAhUmzoMKHV8jA9oQ6AEIJDAB#v=onepage&q=infusion%20osiander&f=false

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  281. Sdb says So we go back to the qualifier you insist on – “that those around us can see” – your statement is false.

    One thing I think we can agree on is that the Lord exhorts for it to be true and exhorts for it not to be untrue:
    -1 Tim 4:15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all.
    -1 Thess 1:6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.
    -2 Tim 3:9 But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all also.

    John Yeasel says:I don’t think conversion is a long process.

    My former pastor used to sometimes use the Engel scale in his sermons, which some found helpful. (Not sure this one is the original)
    http://www.angelfire.com/bc/normanhousechurch/EngleScale.htm

    John Yeazel says And I am giving Ali and Greg ammunition to pour more calls to repentance on me.

    Oh John, believe and receive Jesus.
    Jeremiah 17:
    7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD.
    8 “For he will be like a tree planted by the water,That extends its roots by a stream
    And will not fear when the heat comes;
    But its leaves will be green,And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
    Nor cease to yield fruit

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  282. John Yeazel says And I am giving Ali and Greg ammunition to pour more calls to repentance on me.

    …and , anyway, John, why would you pooh pooh repentance –agreeing with God?

    From today:
    …One of the critical questions to ask is this: What constitutes the irreducible heart of human problems?

    …The Bible insists that the heart of all human problems is rebellion against the God who is our Maker, whose image we bear, and whose rule we seek to overthrow. All of our problems, without exception, can be traced to this fundamental source: our rebellion and the just curse of God that we have attracted by our rebellion.

    This must not be (mis)understood in some simplistic sense. It is not necessarily the case that the greatest rebels in this world suffer the greatest pain in this world, on some simple tit-for-tat scheme. But whether we are perpetrators (as in hate, jealousy, lust, or theft) or victims (as in rape, battery, or indiscriminate bombing), our plight is tied to sin — ours or that of others. Further, whether our misery is the result of explicit human malice or the fruit of a “natural” disaster, Genesis 3 insists that this is a disordered world, a broken world — and that this state of affairs has come about because of human rebellion…
    https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/loveofgod/

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  283. @Ali You’re doing it again. While God’s word is inherently infallible, the message you construct by selectively cutting and pasting pieces of God’s word together is not. If you want to discuss what I’ve written, that’s great. But I’m not interested in starting a different discussion about how Timothy was to progress in his ministry, how universal the experience of the church at Thessalonica should be, or the extent to which the efficacy of false teachers in the church is limited with you.

    I am interested in what your thoughts on Greg’s idiot proof, dead simple question:

    External justification and internal regeneration always come together and always result in a changed life that those around us can see. True or false?

    I think Greg and I have come to some agreement that this is not as simple a question as he initially thought. Jeff has requested scriptural evidence for the problematic clause “always…that those around us can see”. Perhaps there is a reason such a clause didn’t make it into he confessions? Looking up “progress” in a concordance and then cutting and pasting is probably not the most productive way forward.

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  284. sbd says I am interested in what your thoughts on Greg’s idiot proof, dead simple question:

    Oh, sdb It’s always very productive for me (topical study) which is why I do it. I don’t even mine your accusation, therefore, contexts makes it null and void.
    Anyway, if one is bent on being specifically ‘right’,(of course a thought for all of us), it is possible they could miss what the Lord is up to, and worse emphasize and promote against what He desires.

    Heb 10:24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, (that we can see)
    Gal 5: 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.(that we can see)

    Which I think was Greg’s point.

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  285. sdb says didn’t make it into the confessions

    PS sdb, while I have come to a greater appreciation of confessions since coming here, it does not change my mind that the actual word of God is what truly gains us fuller knowledge of Him – which He says is eternal life.

    -John 6:Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.
    -John 17: 3 This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
    -1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

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  286. “I think Greg and I have come to some agreement that this is not as simple a question as he initially thought.”
    I have not changed my view on this since the 80’s. Communicating it to certain people may be more involved than with others which is not necessarily to be taken as an indictment of those others.

    Everything I have said is very clearly declared in both scripture and the standards, even if not verbatim. A person that nobody can tell is any different than the pagans IS one, or at least is to be treated as one until they repent. Clandestine Christians are an oxymoron and utterly foreign to the testimony of scripture and the standards.

    I have been tied up and have another busy day. I’ll do my best to get caught up here as soon as I can.

    It’s been years and I still need to finish THIS

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  287. “I think Greg and I have come to some agreement that this is not as simple a question as he initially thought.”
    I have not changed my view on this since the 80’s.. Communicating it to certain people may be more involved than with others which is not necessarily to be taken as an indictment of those others.

    “I said, with all due respect”
    “That doesn’t mean………..”

    Ha ha ha ha ha………………HA! Take your time, Greg, years even.

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  288. LETME says Ha ha ha ha ha………………HA! Take your time, Greg, years even.

    And a last thing for now, sdb. A lot of that ‘seeing’ is in the use of our words, according to the Lord, a very significant part.

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  289. A person that nobody can tell is any different than the pagans IS one, or at least is to be treated as one until they repent.

    Greg, if you mean those professing faith but showing no indication of repentance then this isn’t disputed.

    But if you want to see abounding visible fruit, have you considered that pagans can appear to outpace believers? Which seems to me to put you in a bit of a pinch because you seem to want to see extraordinary signs. I don’t know what you want to do with believers who aren’t as heroic and stand-outish as you’d prefer (lots of them), and I’m not sure how this doesn’t keep you from assuming outstanding pagans are actually some sort of Christian. But I know, I haven’t really understood you and your brilliance since the 80s.

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  290. Zrim—“How this doesn’t keep you from assuming outstanding pagans are actually some sort of Christian….”

    We fundies can appreciate the slippery slope! First, so many evangelicals said that all Jews get a pass, and then Billy Graham said the anonymous Christian thing to Robert Schuller (which was not universalism but only about the folks who used their free wills correctly to be on the right side of history), and then Franklin Graham supported the mormon and the donald as God’s instruments against the influence of atheism. And given the uncertainty of our experience, who can know where the boundaries are made visible?

    The autonomy of man in his vocation in the second kingdom (in which we include modern plumbing, education, and foreign policy) has in our time reached an undoubted completion. Man has learnt to do plumbing without recourse to the “working hypothesis” called “God.” it is becoming evident that everything gets along without a theist worldview–and, in fact, just as well as before. The effort to reteach “the Christian worldview” to the world we consider to be in the first place pointless because it feels like an attempt to make plumbing dependent on the gospel Also, we consider Christian plumbing to be undignified, even shameful, because “Christian plumbing” amounts to an attempt to exploit man’s need for plumbing into apologetic and missionary “translation” . Christian plumbing confuses the gospel of Christ with human morality and business.

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  291. Mark McC: “Infusion” is not a word that the Bible uses to describe indwelling presence and work of Christ and His Holy Spirit.

    Correct, that’s a theological term used in the Westminster Standards and by Reformed theologians. See WLC 77 and Fisher’s Catechism Q35.

    And it is more correct to say that “grace is infused” than that “the Spirit is infused” (which would be weird to say about a person).

    MCC: The indwelling—- Where faith is, Christ is. Luther was certainly correct about this truth, but it’s a mistake to indentify righteousness with our faith in the righteousness, or to identify Christ’s righteousness with Christ’s life inside us (as Osiander did.)

    Osiander’s error is a little more specific. He and Calvin do not differ on the idea that Christ brings life inside us through infusing grace; rather, Osiander wrongly taught that God transfuses His essense into us, AND THEN that our justification is on the ground of this transfused essence which makes us righteous. So for Osiander, there is a theological error (God imparts His nature to us) and a soteric error (justification on the ground of regeneration, which is quite “evangelical”!)

    Thus Calvin:

    [O.] ought to have attended to the mode of dwelling—viz. that the Father and the Spirit are in Christ; and as in him the fulness of the Godhead dwells, so in him we possess God entire. Hence, whatever he says separately concerning the Father and the Spirit, has no other tendency than to lead away the simple from Christ. Then he introduces a substantial mixture, by which God, transfusing himself into us, makes us as it were a part of himself. Our being made one with Christ by the agency of the Spirit, he being the head and we the members, he regards as almost nothing unless his essence is mingled with us. But, as I have said, in the case of the Father and the Spirit, he more clearly betrays his views—namely, that we are not justified by the mere grace of the Mediator, and that righteousness is not simply or entirely offered to us in his person, but that we are made partakers of divine righteousness when God is essentially united to us.

    Had he only said, that Christ by justifying us becomes ours by an essential union, and that he is our head not only in so far as he is man, but that as the essence of the divine nature is diffused into us, he might indulge his dreams with less harm, and, perhaps, it were less necessary to contest the matter with him; but since this principle is like a cuttle-fish, which, by the ejection of dark and inky blood, conceals its many tails, if we would not knowingly and willingly allow ourselves to be robbed of that righteousness which alone gives us full assurance of our salvation, we must strenuously resist. For, in the whole of this discussion, the noun righteousness and the verb to justify, are extended by Osiander to two parts; to be justified being not only to be reconciled to God by a free pardon, but also to be made just; and righteousness being not a free imputation, but the holiness and integrity which the divine essence dwelling in us inspires. And he vehemently asserts (see sec. 8) that Christ is himself our righteousness, not in so far as he, by expiating sins, appeased the Father, but because he is the eternal God and life. To prove the first point—viz. that God justifies not only by pardoning but by regenerating, he asks, whether he leaves those whom he justifies as they were by nature, making no change upon their vices? The answer is very easy: as Christ cannot be divided into parts, so the two things, justification and sanctification, which we perceive to be united together in him, are inseparable. Whomsoever, therefore, God receives into his favor, he presents with the Spirit of adoption, whose agency forms them anew into his image.

    — Calv Inst 3.11

    As you can see, Calvin has no objection to saying that the Spirit forms us anew into God’s image, while at the same time carefully noting that the forming anew is no ground of our justification:

    In the confusion of a twofold grace, which Osiander obtrudes upon us, there is a similar absurdity. Because those whom God freely regards as righteous, he in fact renews to the cultivation of righteousness, Osiander confounds that free acceptance with this gift of regeneration, and contends that they are one and the same. But Scriptures while combining both, classes them separately, that it may the better display the manifold grace of God. Nor is Paul’s statement superfluous, that Christ is made unto us “righteousness and sanctification,” (1 Cor. 1:30). And whenever he argues from the salvation procured for us, from the paternal love of God and the grace of Christ, that we are called to purity and holiness, he plainly intimates, that to be justified is something else than to be made new creatures.

    — ibid

    or more briefly,

    …destitute in ourselves, we draw near to him by faith, to make way for his grace, that he alone may fill us.

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  292. @Ali

    Heb 10:24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, (that we can see)
    Gal 5: 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.(that we can see)

    Now in addition to cutting and pasting, you are adding to scripture. I’m sure you agree that is not a good thing.

    while I have come to a greater appreciation of confessions since coming here, it does not change my mind that the actual word of God is what truly gains us fuller knowledge of Him – which He says is eternal life.

    I hope you think that the Word of God is the only source by which we gain fuller knowledge of him (fuller than what? I suppose fuller than the knowledge that God is exists and is power that we get from special revelation). But as I’ve noted before, you quote the scriptures here in a fast and loose way that is quite dangerous. The bible says, “Judas hung himself…Jesus said go and do likewise”. One might note that the fact that I can cut and pasted these words from the bible, they are not God’s word. They are my own creation and certainly not consistent with what the Bible teaches. Obviously, you can create all kinds of sentences by picking and choosing one word at a time. You can do the same thing by picking one phrase at a time. You can do the same by selecting a whole verse… when you start cutting and pasting scripture passages, you are creating a new thing – that thing can be instructive, it might even be true, but it is no longer God’s word – it is your word. There is a difference.

    To suggest that your way of splicing together various biblical texts is superior to the summary of biblical texts provided by the reformers in the form of the creeds and confessions is to deeply misunderstand the interpretive role you play in splicing the passages together and bringing them to bear on the discussion. That is not to say that the quotes you have marshaled as evidence for your viewpoints are necessarily faulty. The question is whether privileging private interpretation of an anonymous commenter on the internet over the collective wisdom of the reformers through the ages in understanding how to summarize what scripture teaches on this issue or that – such as sanctification.

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  293. sdb says Now in addition to cutting and pasting, you are adding to scripture

    Oh, the parenthesis are not scripture, but my ‘sanctified intuition’ 🙂 (from the whole of God’s word elsewise.)

    Anyway, are you’re saying all I need to know about sanctification is this chapter supported by these few piecemeal, lifted, single verses added together, out of context prooftexts?

    Chapter XIII Of Sanctification
    I. They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection,[1] by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them:[2] the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed,[3] and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified;[4] and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces,[5] to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.[6]
    II. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man;[7] yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part;[8] whence arises a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.[9]
    III. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail;[10] yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part does overcome;[11] and so, the saints grow in grace,[12] perfecting holiness in the fear of God.[13]

    [1] 1CO 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. ACT 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. PHI 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; ROM 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
    [2] JOH 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. EPH 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. 2TH 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.
    [3] ROM 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
    [4] GAL 5:24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. ROM 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
    [5] COL 1:11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness. EPH 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
    [6] 2CO 7:1 Having therefore these promises, d